By Santiago Brion | October 3, 2022
Don’t Worry Darling is the second film by actress/director Olivia Wilde, about a married couple who live in the suburbs in the 1950s. The couple is played by Academy Award nominee Florence Pugh and Grammy-winning artist Harry Styles. Pugh’s character, Alice, and the rest of the housewives tend their home while the husbands work at The Victory Project. When Alice is experiencing unexpected visions, she begins to question the seemingly perfect suburban paradise that she and Jack, Alice’s husband played by Harry Styles, live in.
For starters, this was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. As far as the question of whether or not it lives up to the hype, well… it doesn’t.
While I can praise Don’t Worry Darling for its concept and visual style, the film just stops being good about halfway through when it starts to get interesting.
All of the glamor, great cast, and potential of Don’t Worry Darling culminated in a frustrating third act that leads to an unexpected cut to black that wasn’t even satisfactory. The movie also suffers from its many plot holes and unanswered questions. What were Jack and the husbands’ actual jobs at Victory? What happened to the plane from the first act?
However, I want to point out the positives of the movie. Florence Pugh carries the entire movie on her shoulders. With every role that Flo plays, she knocks it out of the park, which is why she’s my current favorite actress. What I like about Florence Pugh is that she doesn’t try to act; she naturally acts by playing that is completely human. Her frown expression from Midsommar, a horror movie from 2019, has also gone down in meme history that it deserves to be called the “Flo” expression.
The production design captures the atmosphere of living in the suburbs in the 1950s with the housewives hanging out by the pool and the Americanized marketing of home products. The cinematography from Matthew Libatique, a frequent collaborator with director Darren Aronofsky, is gorgeous to look at, with one sequence of Alice cooking a pot roast. I wouldn’t recommend going in with an empty stomach. Olivia Wilde’s direction is admittedly impressive considering the public drama that happened between her and the cast & crew. Which will have to be a separate article for another time.
The film does have a lot of negatives like Harry Styles’ acting or lack thereof. He does his best for his first major role, but Harry became distracting for the people who come to see a psychological thriller and not a film with Gen Z’s pop star icon. Gemma Chan does pretty well but is underutilized much later during its climax. Chris Pine’s villain role is stellar but becomes an unfortunate afterthought halfway through the film. Kiki Layne also has limited screen time due to the fact that most of her scenes were cut. Kiki’s name is on the poster after all, and was headlined to have an important supporting role that was unceremoniously left out.
The second act starts to get interesting during a particular dinner scene where Alice & Jack host a dinner for Frank, the head of The Victory Project, who is played by Chris Pine.
The twist revealing The Victory Project, the company that Jack works for, is unsatisfactory, to say the least. The movie dances around between reality and fiction to an insane degree that it becomes nauseating. Jack doing an awkward dance while Frank does a speech on Victory’s progress was also nauseating. There’s also a weird sequence where the film cuts between Alice being in the bathroom having a mental breakdown while Jack is chanting “Whose world is this?”.
I also think that it could’ve been a nod to the iconic Copacabana sequence from GoodFellas where it could’ve been a one-take sequence of Alice and Jack going into the Victory Project gala.
What was also infuriating about the third act is the actual messy theme of men entrapping women without their consent, instead of an insight of women wanting to break off toxic masculinity.
Just when the movie feels like it’s minutes away from coming to a close and builds towards a satisfactory frame, it just ends and then the credits roll. What also makes the third act infuriating is that many of its side characters barely have their time to shine. If side characters don’t become as important as their main protagonists, the movie fails.
Not only is this a disappointing sophomore follow-up for a promising female director, and doesn’t live up to Wilde’s critically acclaimed coming-of-age movie, Booksmart, it’s so far the biggest disappointment of 2022.
Don’t Worry Darling is now playing in theaters at Regal Crossgates and Regal Colonie Center.