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Don't Worry Darling

average rating is 3 out of 5


Kieran Freemantle


Posted on:

Sep 28, 2022

Film Reviews
Don't Worry Darling
Directed by:
Olivia Wilde
Written by:
Katie Silberman, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke
Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine

Don’t Worry Darling is Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to her hit comedy Booksmart. However, it has become notorious because of the behind-the-scenes drama. 

Alice and Jack Chambers (Florence Pugh and Harry Styles) are seemingly a happy young couple in a 1950s company town. Jack works for the Victory Project whilst Alice is a housewife and gets to live a life of leisure with the other wives. However, Alice starts to have visions, notices strange things about the town, and Margaret (KiKi Layne) challenges town’s leader, Frank (Chris Pine). Alice seems to go down the same path as Margaret by challenging the rules and the community question her sanity. 

Don’t Worry Darling has been overshadowed by the controversy around it. There have been rumours that Wilde and Pugh argued on set and Pugh has distanced herself from the film because she has barely promoted it. Wilde claimed to have fired Shia LaBeouf yet LaBeouf publicly submitted evidence to prove otherwise. There were rumours that the cast was unhappy with Wilde’s onscreen behaviour, especially when she entered into a relationship with Styles. The scandal increased at the premier when it seemed like Styles spat at Pine. 

All these factors made Don’t Worry Darling a morbid curiosity for film fans, similar to films like World War Z and Fantastic Four (2015). Yet the resulting film did not seem like a disaster. The production design, costumes and cinematography were excellent, and it did not look like a film that had numerous reshoots or was hacked to pieces in the editing room. It was too well-made and coherent to deserve an overly negative reputation. 

The film did set out an eerie and surreal atmosphere from the outset. It seemed unreal when all the wives came out to wave their husbands goodbye and they drove off together to work. It gives the audience a clear indication that something isn’t right. It made Don’t Worry Darling more like The Truman Show because of its implausible perfect setting and unusual way people acted. 

Don’t Worry Darling has been compared to The Stepford Wives because of the suburban setting and women being expected to conform. The film plays up the ’50s imaginary and the ideas of the era, like the traditional ideas of the nuclear family with specific gender roles. Alice started to defy the conventions that the men are in control and women don’t need to concern their pretty little heads. Due to the film having an unnatural air, it felt like a M Night Shyamalan film. Shyamalan has made uneasy thrillers where there’s something unusual going on. And like a Shyamalan film and because of the unnatural setting a twist reveal felt inevitable. The twist would make or break the film for audience members. 

The ‘50s ascetic made Don’t Worry Darling feel like a classic dystopia. The Victory posters had a vintage look to them, messages from Frank and his wife were blasting out propaganda messages, and there were mysterious uniformed men who did the government’s dirty work. 

Wilde has stated she wanted to focus on female sexual pleasure. An early scene in the film involved when Jack comes home from work and it resulted in him performing oral sex on his wife. However, when the big reveal happened it puts Wilde’s comments in question. It leads to questions about whether Wilde even knew the themes of the film she was making. 

Don’t Worry Darling did try to stretch its net wide because it tried to tackle a lot of themes. There was a look of male domination, traditional roles, government control, social conformity, and there were themes related to the twist. However, the themes didn’t feel fully formed. 

Don’t Worry Darling did have a great cast with the likes of Pugh, Pine, Gemma Chan and Kiki Layne. Pugh has proven herself time and again in films like Lady Macbeth, Fighting with My Family, and Midsommar and she stole the show in Black Widow. Even if the rumours are true about her being unhappy on set, it didn’t show because she gave a strong performance as the young woman caught in this strange world. 

The big question mark was Harry Styles. Styles was known as a pop star instead of an actor and Don’t Worry Darling was his first leading role. A clip spread online where Styles’ character was arguing with Pugh and Styles's accent flipped from American to English. It felt like a warning sign. Whilst that was a bad scene, Styles’ performance was competent for the most part. He was overshadowed by some acting heavyweights, but he was passable. 

Don’t Worry Darling was a perfectly fine film. It was no trainwreck. It looked fantastic, had an atmosphere and a strong leading performance from Pugh. The biggest issue was the story and themes which were undercooked.

About the Film Critic
Kieran Freemantle
Kieran Freemantle
Theatrical Release
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