Don’t Worry Darling: Review

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Devyn Deschamps, Reporter

 

Everything I thought I knew about Don’t Worry Darling was left at the door. Since the announcement of the film in July 2019, critics and audiences alike have been buzzing about Olivia Wilde’s next film, after her critically acclaimed, Booksmart (2019). However, due to the classic Hollywood drama between stars and the recently released teaser for the movie, Wilde’s reputation has gone downhill, along with the films.

The highly anticipated film leads with a distinguished cast, starring Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women), Harry Styles (Dunkirk, Eternals), Chris Pine (Wonder Woman, Star Trek), and Wilde directing and starring. Others include Nick Kroll (Bigmouth), Gemma Chan (Eternals), as well as Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk). The reputable cast brings exceptional talent to the table.

This talent, through the eyes of the public, initially was wasted. This came after receiving more than poor critic reviews, coming in with a hot 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The production of the movie is a story itself, as Wilde’s original cast had Shia Labeouf (Holes, Peanut Butter Falcon) as Styles’ character. Wilde later commented on the situation, as videos of her being passive to Pugh surfaced when attempting to bring Labeouf to the production. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she said, “I was given an ultimatum. I chose my actress, which I’m ecstatic I did. At the time was I bummed that we weren’t able to make it work? Sure.”

Styles and Wilde have also been in a relationship publicly since January 2022, amid the production of the film. Between inter-work relationships and behind-the-scenes drama, critics were questioning whether the film was superb or if it was all a publicity stunt to sell as many tickets as possible.

The inescapable spectacle of what was the Don’t Worry Darling production created a bias for almost anyone who had social media. And despite the various narratives, the movie was surprisingly excellent.

The movie follows Alice (Pugh), and Jack (Styles), living in the 1950s, in the experimental city of Victory, where all the men work on the top secret Victory Project. The project is directed by the ominous Frank (Pine). As time passes, Alice begins to notice the seemingly malicious fractures that the city and her perfect life have within.

This plot at first glance was nothing out of the ordinary and truly made me think that the driving force behind ticket sales was drama. However, I could not have been more wrong. After the first 15 minutes, I thought that my previous opinion of the movie was correct. However, as the plot progressed and unraveled itself, I found myself becoming captivated by the scenery, the costumes, and most of all the performances. 

The cinematography was certainly a highlight. The symmetry of the different scenes truly helped to transform the impact. The symmetry created a blend of concern and comfort while reassuring the audience of the 1950s setting.

With this being the first starring role for Styles, his performance certainly delivered. Specifically, when considering that his co-star Pugh has been a critically adored seasoned actress. Although at times, his performance had some inconsistencies, that provoked me to have a slight chuckle; he portrayed the character with an obvious passion and intensity. Pine plays the run-of-the-mill gaslighting alpha male to perfection, inspiring a gut feeling of hatred by the end. Pugh expressed an exceptional range of emotions, with feelings of raw rage, bliss, and distress being evoked with ease through her performance.

The twists and turns within the film were unforeseeable, to say the least, and truly kept me guessing what was next. I wouldn’t have classified the movie so far as a ‘thriller,’ however, psychological horror describes the movie perfectly, as for about half I was believing that this was an adequate representation of the downfall of a 1950s housewife’s mental stability. This was the initial understanding that the director had created, but continued to introduce nuisance layers that were perfectly fulfilled. To be frank, this has been a movie that has made me think, which after years of the flopping pandemic blockbusters, has been quite refreshing. 

With a runtime of 2 hours and 3 minutes and an R rating, every second, I was consistently anticipating what was next due to the fast pace the plot set. The movie wasn’t truly that gruesome, with only a singular scene sticking out, along with various sexually driven displays.

Unfortunately, the reputation of Don’t Worry Darling precedes itself, but if one is willing to give it a chance, it’s most definitely worthwhile.