Luckiest Girl Alive Handles Sensitive Subject With Care

Mila Kunis as Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive. Photo credit: Sabrina Lantos/Netflix. © 2022.

Luckiest Girl Alive brings Jessica Knoll’s bestselling novel to the screen in a new film starring Mila Kunis and Finn Wittrock.

On paper, Ani FaNelli (Mila Kunis) is living the dream life–she’s working for Women’s Bible magazine, has an amazing wardrobe, and a wedding on the horizon. What many people around her don’t know is that deep down, Ani is still dealing with repressed trauma from high school. This trauma comes back to haunt her when she decides to tell her side of the story in a true-crime documentary abut a sexual assault and following shooting that took place at the Brentley School. It soon becomes a situation where she feels like she has no choice but to open up about everything or let the past live in the past. What happens when she decides to let the dam break free? It’s a really big deal because she’s even holding the truth back from her fiancé, Luke Harrison (Finn Wittrock).

The film features a sexual assault on screen so pleased be advised accordingly. There’s also a shooting at the school and the film hides nothing from the audience. These are the most violent scenes by far. For what it’s worth, screenwriter Jessica Knoll is a survivor of sexual assault. Much like Ani in the book, Knoll was working for Cosmopolitan Magazine when she wrote the novel. After publishing the novel, Knoll opened up about her high school experience for Lenny Letter. Fiction has a way of being cathartic while allowing people to write about their own experiences through the fictional lens. FWIW, they also brought on a few organizations because of the content at hand.

With such heavy content, it means finding the right director. Mike Barker previously helmed episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and brings the same care to Luckiest Girl Alive. Filming these scenes are not easy but the filmmaker made sure to keep the atmosphere light on set. It also involves trust between Barker and Knoll because Knoll is coming from a place of using fiction to talk about her own sexual assault in school. This isn’t easy by any means. There are some changes from the book but this is typical for any page-to-screen adaptation. One of the main changes comes with the ending so as to give a universal feeling to the film. When you see how they go about this ending, you’ll probably understand why they did what they did.

Luckiest Girl Alive focuses on very difficult subject matters but the film handles it with the right tone and care.

DIRECTOR: Mike Barker
CAST: Mila Kunis, Finn Wittrock, Scoot McNairy, Chiara Aurelia, Justine Lupe, Thomas Barbusca, Alex Barone, Carson MacCormac, Isaac Kragten, Gage Munroe, with Jennifer Beals and Connie Britton

Netflix released Luckiest Girl Alive in theaters on September 30 and will start streaming on October 7, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.