‘The Babadook’ Director Jennifer Kent Takes on True Life Murder Tale ‘Alice and Freda Forever’
After making her directorial debut with the intensely great The Babadook, we’ve all been waiting to see what Jennifer Kent would do next. The Australian director has selected her next project, and no, it’s not a superhero movie (thank goodness) — it’s Alice and Freda Forever, based on the book by Alexis Coe, which tells the true story of the love between two young girls in Tennessee…and the murder that ended it.
According to Deadline, Kent’s sophomore effort will keep her on the darker side of things with Alice and Freda Forever, which she will adapt in addition to directing. The story takes place in Memphis, Tennessee in 1892, and centers on the young love between Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward, which ultimately ended in tragedy.
Coe’s book is based on extensive research and hundreds of documents, including love letters, newspaper articles and archival materials. Those love letters were what ultimately tore Alice and Freda apart — once the documents were discovered, they were separated and forbidden from seeing each other again.
Here’s the official synopsis:
In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.
Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter—and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail—including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.
Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes—painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.
It’s a pretty compelling story, and a logical follow-up to The Babadook — like that film, Alice and Freda Forever deals in intense emotion and horror, with the former having a great influence on the latter.