Those expecting a fairy tale ending for these characters won’t get one, and that speaks in the movie’s favor. One of the central conceits of the film is that no one is “good” or “bad,” and most of the characters we are supposed to care about are flawed, with some having committed objectively horrible acts. There is no going back to the way things were, but there is the hope of everyone building new lives around the grief and tragedy they’ve all faced and, in some instances, caused.
The messages of the film, however, often veer into didactic territory, with several scenes being overly explicit and spelling out what is going on with the characters. We chronicle Allison’s spiral into addiction, for example, in almost paint-by-numbers fashion, with her former pharmaceutical sales rep colleague and her old high school classmates literally telling us (or forcing her to tell us) how low she has fallen.
That’s not to say that Pugh’s performance of Allison’s struggles isn’t compelling. Pugh is, in fact, undeniably the best part of the film. The way she captures Allison’s despair, depression, self-loathing, and daily struggle just to decide to stay alive will stick with you. It will also strike true for many of those who may have felt similarly in their lives at some point. Pugh and her metaphorically laden shorn hair alone, however, can’t rescue the film from its stilted dialogue, muddled character arcs, and relationships that don’t quite come together into something believable.
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