It is a strong directorial debut from Reen and will surprise many people. It is a bit hard to watch at times, but it’s necessary. There are different perspectives shown on domestic violence, and it helps viewers process all situations.
This review of the Netflix film Darlings does not contain spoilers
Life has a way of coming full circle for everyone. Most of the time, parents find themselves in similar situations vicariously through their children. Their past finds a way to the present and creates an even worse situation. Director Jasmeet K. Reen raises the bar for dark comedies with Darlings. Considering that this is her directorial debut, the story is a bit heavy, but the entire cast does an exceptional job in telling this story. The subject of emotional and physical abuse from a partner has become more mainstream in media because there is a need to share these stories. No matter how painful they may be, these stories help other victims share theirs. This film follows Badru (Alia Bhatt) and her abusive, alcoholic husband Hamza (Vijay Varma) as they navigate their destructive marriage.
The honeymoon phase at the beginning is quickly shown to show the power dynamic between the two. Badru was more forthright and hotheaded, while Hamza was sweet and understanding. It quickly cuts to three years later, and we see that their dynamic has drastically changed. Their apartment is darkly lit, and there is this unease within the room. The roles have changed because of the conditioning through marriage. He is supposed to be the man of the house, the supporter, the strength that carries the family, and he projects those insecurities on Badru. When Hamza goes to work, it’s not his ideal position and he is demeaned in the workplace. So, naturally, he goes home to Badru to assert his dominance and have some control in his life. He blames the alcohol to justify his actions and so does Badru, which is incredibly heartbreaking to watch.
Badru truly loves Hamza, and that is why it’s so hard for her to leave him. Any victim will tell you that it is incredibly difficult to leave the person you love even though they are abusing you. We see the pain and the hurt that Badru endures, but she continuously goes back to him, because she also blames the alcohol. Until it’s not the alcohol. Everyone around her tries to help her get through this with Hamza, and halfway through is where the drama turns into a very dark comedy. People can approach situations in different ways and that is what Badru does in this movie. It truly does depend on your sense of humour or how you feel about the subject matter in order to appreciate the angle of this movie.
Darlings is a strong directorial debut from Reen and will surprise many people. It is a bit hard to watch at times, but it’s necessary. There are different perspectives shown on domestic violence and it helps viewers process all situations. The cast all work together quite well to deliver this story as authentically as possible for viewers to understand how difficult living with an abuser can be. There were some choices made by Reen that surprised me but made the movie interesting to watch in the second half. It’s impressive because of how much care went into telling this story uniquely and honestly in a way that everyone can resonate with. Reen makes the viewers connect with these characters and that’s the important part of telling this story.
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