Luckiest Girl Alive (Mike Barker, 2022, USA)

Luckiest Girl Alive is a 2022 Netflix adaptation of Jessica Knoll's 2015 mystery novel, which followed in the footsteps of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train. In this case, director Mike Barker is taking on the adaptation from a screenplay Knoll wrote based on her novel. The film stars Mila Kunis in the title role of 28-year-old TifAni "Ani" Fanelli, a magazine editor who appears at the beginning of the film to have a picture-perfect life. Quickly this picture begins to unravel, and we discover that Ani has many secrets buried within her past. 

Going into this film without any background on the novel, you might think that Ani is going to be living some kind of double life. The "too perfect" life she leads with her boyfriend Luke (Finn Wittrock), who she is preparing to marry, leads you to believe that she is some kind of psychopath. Knoll's first-time screenplay relies extensively on voiceover, to an irritating degree throughout the film. Eventually, the film's narrative structure is established, with flashbacks revealing both a sexual assault and a school shooting when she was a teenager. What seems to be a dark comedy takes an altogether darker path as we begin to explore the trauma of her character leading to the present day.

Luckiest Girl Alive is a strange exercise that may have worked more successfully as a novel, in that it wants to be clever and stylish - including the ever-present voiceover - while simultaneously dealing with very intense and disturbing themes. Tonally the film never seems to come together, and one wonders what might have happened if the film had played it straight. The resulting film is an elevated Lifetime movie that might have played better as a limited series, as there is simply too much going on here.



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