Netflix’s thriller film ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ revolves around the life of Ani Fanelli, the senior editor of a New York-based women’s magazine named The Women’s Bible. As Ani prepares for her wedding with her fiancé Luke Harrison, documentary filmmaker Aaron Wickersham meets her concerning the mass killings that happened at her former school named Brentley School. Aaron’s persistence to convince Ani to be a part of a documentary that revolves around the school shooting leads her to recollect her days at Brentley and the terrifying school tragedy. Intrigued by the same, we have found out whether Brentley has a real-life counterpart and whether the school shooting that happened at the place is real. Let us share our findings!
Is Brentley a Real School?
The prestigious Brentley School in ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ is the movie counterpart of The Bradley School in Jessica Knoll’s eponymous novel, the source material of the film. In the novel, The Bradley School is located in Bryn Mawr, a census-designated place in the state of Pennsylvania. The school heavily resembles The Shipley School, an independent school located in Bryn Mawr where author Jessica Knoll completed her school education. The most significant detail that connects Brentley/Bradley and The Shipley School is that Knoll was raped by three boys at age of 15 while she was seemingly studying in the latter school, exactly like Ani got raped by three of her fellow Brentley/Bradley schoolmates.
The struggles and hardships Ani confronted as a student of Brentley School in the film are identical to Knoll’s when she was a high school student. “No one was treating me like a victim; they were treating me like I was a perpetrator, like I was getting what I deserved,” Knoll told The New York Times about the aftermath of the gang rape as a student. “The message I internalized was that nothing bad happened; you did something wrong,” the author added. Ani, in the film, had to endure a similar phase after getting raped by Liam, Dean, and another friend of the two boys. Just like “trash slut” appeared in Ani’s school locker, the same appeared in Knoll’s locker after the harrowing incident.
Considering these similarities, Brentley is seemingly the movie version of The Shipley School, situated at Yarrow Street in Bryn Mawr. The school, founded in 1888 as a preparatory school for Bryn Mawr College by sisters Hannah, Elizabeth, and Katharine Shipley, still operates. Notable alumni of the school include celebrated singer Marshmello, actor and musician Gavin Becker, actor David Corenswet, etc.
Is the Brentley School Shooting Real?
Even though Brentley is seemingly based on The Shipley School, the school shooting that happened at the former institution in the film is a fictional detail. Such a school shooting neither happened in The Shipley School nor Knoll had to witness the same as a student. Still, the author has conceived the same with roots in reality to address the horrendous school shootings that happened in reality. As per the FBI, 75% of school shooting perpetrators commit the crime upon feeling bullied/persecuted/threatened by others and 61% of the preparators are motivated by a desire for revenge in reality.
Knoll’s book and screenplay address the same through Arthur and Ben, the two friends behind the Brentley school shooting. Ben set out to kill his fellow schoolmates upon getting bullied by Dean and his friends. As someone who had to endure Dean’s group’s authority over him, Ben took the gun to gain the same authority over them. Arthur, on the other hand, was motivated by revenge. He shot Dean for raping Ani and bullying Ben.
Read More: Luckiest Girl Alive Ending, Explained: Does Ani Expose Dean?