PARK CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 21: Actor Jennifer Connelly attends the 2023 Sundance Film Festival “Bad Behaviour” Premiere at The Ray Theatre on January 21, 2023 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
By Bailey Pennick
“I just kept thinking about Lucy,” says Alice Englert at the premiere of her debut feature film Bad Behaviour. The Australian–New Zealand actor and filmmaker is flanked by her cast and crew at The Ray Theatre in Park City, Utah, as she reveals the origins of her flawed protagonist and the film’s main inspiration. “I just kept imagining what would happen if she decided to become a black hole instead of a guiding light. Like, any way to annihilate the ego would work when you’re trying to rip up all your narratives.”
This cosmic look at Lucy’s (Jennifer Connelly) desperate journey for self-acceptance and internal happiness is apt, especially when thinking about this film’s nihilistic look at the wellness retreat complex, the sometimes performative nature of working on one’s self, and how that impacts your relationships with others — including family.
Lucy tries to have it all while not listening to any instructions at this surreal semi-silent retreat run by a shady character named Elon Bello (Ben Whishaw). She promises to follow the rules and then immediately uses her cellphone to call her stunt-performer daughter (Englert); she’s told to clear her mind and instead she imagines that the guru has a crush on her; she claims to want to open up and connect with people, but she judges everyone else in her group. It’s exhausting living in Lucy’s mind, but that’s exactly what drew Connelly to her.
“I felt that the material was uncomfortable — and the character was uncomfortable — and I loved that she was the protagonist,” laughs Connelly. “This woman! [Who’s] kind of a dick! But I love that you have to spend time with her and really take her in and consider her.” Considering Lucy is easier said than done when she decides to take her issues out on a fellow retreat-goer, a rising fashion-star-social-media-influencer-DJ named Beverly, cruelly and physically.
“She sort of explodes her life with what she does to Beverly,” Englert exclaims. “And then what’s left in the wreckage is just this mother-daughter story that just won’t fuck off you know?” The crowd and crew laughs along with the director. “I wanted to see what would happen if the hypothetical got lived out. We’re so scared of all the shit we’ll fuck up all the time, and I just really wanted to write about someone who fucked up!”
And while 99-percent of the audience agrees that Lucy completely and undeniably fucked up, Connelly isn’t fully ready to let her character go down that path. “I don’t think she sets out to be a black hole or make things explode,” muses Connelly. “I think what she actually wants to do is love her daughter well, and save her daughter. I think she’s trying to find herself to repair this relationship, but it just gets so fucked up because theres so much history and baggage that gets in the way.”