Luckiest Girl Alive: Is the Netflix movie based on a true story?

Many viewers ofLuckiest Girl Alive, which is currently number one on Netflix’s Top 10, have been wondering whether the Mila Kunis-starrer is based on a true story.

The film follows Kunis’s Ani, a writer whose seemingly perfect life starts to unravel when a true-crime documentary forces her to confront a school shooting she experienced as a teenager.

Luckiest Girl Alive contains harrowing scenes, with many viewers calling for stronger trigger warnings, but is it based on real life events?

***This article contains spoilers for Luckiest Girl Alive***

The answer is not straightforward. The film is technically based on a 2015 mystery novel of the same name by Jessica Knoll. In that book, a teenage Ani is gang raped at a house party by several of her classmates. She tells her friends Arthur and Ben what happened, and they then share their experiences of being bullied by the same boys who raped Ani. Later on, Arthur and Ben carry out a mass shooting at the school.

Knoll originally said her novel was a work of total fiction when the book was first released, and explained that the rape storyline was inspired by the experiences of other women she had heard about. But the next year, in an essay published in Lena Dunham’s feminist newsletter Lenny Letter, Knoll revealed that Ani’s experience of gang rape was inspired by Knoll’s own attack she suffered while attending a private school as a teenager.

Later, speaking about why she was reluctant to tell people the story was based on her own experience, Knoll told Today: “I always feel a little undeserving of being called like brave or courageous, because I had to [open up] in fiction.

“There were these duelling things inside of me. I desperately craved the release of getting my story out on paper, and the validation of recognising what had happened to me as rape. I needed that.”

Mila Kunis in ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ (Netflix)
Mila Kunis in ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ (Netflix)

She added: “But on the other hand, I was frightened that people would read it and come to the same conclusion that people did when I was in high school, which was that no violation had occurred and that I had somehow participated in it.”

The school shooting storyline in the book and film are not based on a specific real-life event.

Luckiest Girl Alive is available on Netflix now.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.