Luckiest Girl Alive Ending Explained
The new Netflix movie starring Mila Kunis is making the rounds for all the right reasons. Critics have lauded the attempt as a sensible movie about the subject of rape and the importance of speaking out. It solidifies the attempts of real-life survivors who are often blamed for coming out too late by commentators.
Luckiest Girl Alive validates their bravery and strength for having survived one of the worst things a human can do to another. If there is one thing the film’s plot can be described as it is anything but straightforward.
It is more of a zigzag line where you are constantly kept in the dark about what actually happened. This makes the setup for the third act quite interesting, although does not fully deliver on the promise. Let’s take a closer look. As always, do feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this one!
Who is Mr. Larson and how did he help Ani?
When Luke booked a table for four at a restaurant, Ani gets a surprise visit from a figure in her past. As Luke and Whitney exchange pleasantries, Ani browses through Whitney’s phone feigning to like her new-born babe’s photos. She spots an old face, Mr. Larson, whom she shortly sees in the flesh. The man almost doesn’t recognize her because Ani was chubby when she was in school. Mr. Larson is actually one of the good guys in Ani’s tale. He is her supportive English teacher from Brentley, the private school Ani went to in the film.
It was Mr. Larson who found Ani after she wandered off from Dean’s house and the party where she was brutally raped in a convenience store. She immediately fell into his arms, knowing she could trust him. He took her back to his house, even at the risk of knowing what it would look like. And his responsibility didn’t just end there.
He made it a point to take up the matter with Headmaster Mayer, who was himself reluctant to act due to the personnel involved. He put his own neck on the line for Ani when no one else would. He even lost the job after his shenanigans out Mayer in the bad light of Dean and Liam’s powerful parents.
The “entitled friends” group virtually funded the school’s programs and the Headmaster didn’t want to ruin that. So instead, when he says to Ani that he will have to phone her mother to make the complaint to the police, she gets scared and resists filing it, leading to Mr. Larson’s termination.
Why did Ben and Arthur carry out the shooting?
This one is actually quite vague but the film gives us enough hints to make out the reasons. Ben, Arthur, and Ani were friends in school. Albeit they were kind of outcasts but they cared for and respected each other. When Ani started mixing in with the popular fund trust kids, the two had to invariably rub shoulders with them too. Even with Ani out of the equation, Ben was bullied by members of the entitled kids’ group. One such incident that Arthur tells Ani about is when Peyton and his friends took Ben to a forest and defecated on his chest.
This unimaginably demeaning act forced him to attempt suicide by cutting his wrists but nothing came of it. Arthur mocks Ben for not standing up to himself in light of Ani’s similar attitude, causing friction among them. Arthur never took their meaningless attention and always gave back in bunches. In one such incident, he has a scuffle with Dean and inadvertently hits an elderly teacher who tries to intervene, thus sealing his fate. He could no longer have made his dream to go to Columbia a reality and even faced expulsion if he didn’t apologize.
All of these events combined – including their anger for Ani – promoted them to do the shooting. There was something Ani said about being a victim. When Aaron, the documentary filmmaker, asks Ani about the accusations that she was in on the plan, she says that Ben nodded to her during the shooting because he was a victim too.
The shooting was a vengeful and effective way in the eyes of the boys to “cleanse” the school of its toxicity and the kids who never get into trouble despite doing the most hideous of things possible. There can be a debate about how sensible that was but that is up to the audience to discuss the “retributive vs. reformative” justice.
Why did no one believe Ani when the shooting happened?
Well, there can be plenty of reasons for the same as the makers left it to the viewer’s discretion. The one that Ani mentions in the movie to Nell is the only plausible one we got from them. When they’re trying out the dresses, Nell asked her why didn’t anybody back then believe her. She described herself as “a wet seal-wearing gutter rat”. She came from poor family background and had lower social status than Dean. She was a kid on financial aid. Through flashbacks, we see Ani suffer a terrible fate at the hands of the kids she called “trust-fund kids”.
There is also the issue of general perception. Because Dean had better PR, he immediately got ahead of Ani’s version to tell his own. Who could dare not believe a kid in a wheelchair who can never walk again and lost his best friends in a mass shooting? That probably sums up how the people back then would have seen it. It also had a lot to do with who Dean’s parents actually were.
Why does Ani hate Liam and his friends and the idea of trust fund kids?
Well, this is quite obvious. The first question’s answer is the very conceit that fuels the film. Ani was drugged and then raped, first by Dean, and then by Liam, and made fun of by their friends. We see the ordeal as Ani wakes up in a bathroom and finds herself on the floor. Dean’s mouth is between her legs as Liam barges in and asks him to stop trying. When she tries to get out, she finds a slew of Liam’s friends standing in a group and mocking her. This is also the primary reason why Arthur and ben decided to do something about the popular group that was just ruining things for other people. There are certainly other secondary reasons why it all happened but this one was quite obvious.
Her hatred for trust-fund kids is due to her financial background. As a child, her mother put all her money and effort into getting her an “expensive” education so that she could get into elite colleges and land a husband like Luke. She makes it quite clear in an impassioned speech reminding Ani where she comes from.
Ani went to the school on a writing scholarship. As evidenced by another teen film this year, the financial aid kids often do not get a warm reception. They’re ostracized and made fun of, something Ani too suffered.
Why does Ani cancel her wedding with Luke?
The ending of the film was quite unique as it was more along the lines of altruism than a tangible thing that can manifest physically. She has a meeting with Dean at one of his book signing events. Unbeknownst to him, or us, she has her phone recording the entire conversation, where she gets him to confess that he raped her.
Dean, on his part, offered to take back his statement accusing Ani of being in connivance with Arthur and Ben, if she didn’t speak of the rape. But she was a step ahead and finally showed him the finger before walking out. She hears the tape over and over again with tears in her eyes. And that is part of the reason why she decided to break it off with Luke.
After she cancels the wedding, she realizes her dream of working at the NY Times Magazine. Her essay is lauded by the women’s community and becomes a hit. Survivors come out with their own stories and take courage in each other. Now, why does she break it off? She has a perfect life, her accusations are gone too, and she can finally have whatever she ever wanted: a powerful name behind her. She was going to be “Ani Harrison”. The reason is that the movie also touches upon the coming-of-age element in Ani’s arch. For years, the burden of the shooting and the rape story tormented her.
She tried to be the perfect dolled-up girl for Luke and that is why she said “she used him all those years”. She has finally been able to move beyond the thing that defined her for so many years. Dean’s admission was something Ani wanted for herself and it liberated her. She admits to Luke that she has been pretending to be the perfect girl for him. He is like Liam to her in some senses. At least in what he represents, something she loathes even to this day.
“An approximation of honesty won’t make the cut”, is what LoLo said to Ani. The movie was like the perfect life for the couple but then when the documentary comes up, it all starts unfolding. The ugly truth and dark secrets kept well finally start coming out of the box. Ani is herself by the end.
It started with fights that she started picking with Luke. They were glimpses and Dean admitting the rape was the final cog in the wheel that allowed Ani to be with her tragic past. She finally wasn’t living in denial that she was tougher and had moved on from the rape.
After confessing she was a victim, she became Ani again. The rose, in the end, is a metaphor for Ani’s inspiring redemption story.
Read More: Luckiest Girl Alive Movie Review