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Sundance 2023: Bad Behaviour Review

Alice Englert marks her debut in the directors chair with Bad Behaviour. She also writes, and acts alongside Jennifer Connelly as daughter and mother respectively. Englert wears her heart on her sleeve as the story is seemingly loosely based on her relationship with her real-life mother. Bad Behaviour is filled with messy people and even messier relationships 

Lucy (Connelly) has signed herself up for a wellness retreat run by hack guru Elon (Ben Whishaw). She’s looking for enlightenment amongst the low tech silent walls, dealing with trauma from her past and her tumultuous relationship with her daughter Dylan (Englert) a stunt actor who is on the other side of the country on a film set.

Bad Behaviour serves Lucy and Dylan’s stories separately before they reunite. Their paths are intentionally separate as the distance between them isn’t just physical but emotional as well. Dylan is a lot harder to get invested in as we spend way more time with Lucy, which is fine as the events taking place around her are a lot more interesting. As she tries increasingly sham methods to invoke some internal healing including a particularly cringe session of mother and baby. But most of the time is spent longing for them both to come together until they finally do.

Bad Beahviour operates on full cylinders when these storylines collide. So much time has passed by this point, that you’ll begrudge the fact you wont get to see Connelly and Englert interact on screen in these golden moments beyond the final act. The separation is there for good reason but because the first two thirds of the film are overdrawn, the potential for a proper emotional gut punch is taken away. 

Jennifer Connelly holds the film together with her chaotic performance. Through it you can see how important it is for Lucy to find meaning in what she went through growing up and how she can get over it to be a better parent for Dylan. Alice Englert adeptly balances all of her creative roles. It’ll be more than interesting to see where she goes next with her writing and directing. Connelly and Englert share a wicked chemistry when it comes to it, but their on screen relationship isn’t enough to completely save Bad Behaviour from itself. There is a neat cameo halfway through, and if you’re clued up on Englert’s family tree it wont come as much of a surprise.  

When Bad Behaviour is good, its very good. But it gives itself a lot of things to clear up and it struggles to do so with a nice neat bow on top in the hour and fifty minute run time. It needed to commit to Lucy exploring her feelings in the wellness retreat, Dylan experiencing life away from her mother, or them working out their problems together. In trying to accomplish all of these elements, Bad Behaviour gets lost in the very mountains it so beautifully captures.