Don’t Worry Darling is the exciting new psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde, starring two of the most popular young actors of the last few years. Harry Styles’ first starring role has generated huge publicty and anticipation. Charlie Maris reviews.
In 2019, Olivia Wilde’s debut film, Booksmart, was a roaring success, with a riotous script and a winning story of female friendship, it seemed like an interesting new voice was emerging. Her second film, also written by Katie Silberman, Don’t Worry Darling, sees Florence Pugh as Alice, a housewife leisurely enjoying what appears to be ‘a perfect life’. She provides all the cooking and cleaning that her husband Jack (Harry Styles) could want, and is always ready with a cocktail when he arrives home.
Of course, the company town they live in, as anyone who has seen the trailer could tell you, is not exactly as it seems, and there are secrets being kept by the charismatic leader, who is followed with religious fervour. The unease with which Alice moves through her surroundings shows clear inspiration from films like Get Out, The Truman Show and The Stepford Wives. This film dreams of being those great social thrillers.
The Don’t Worry Darling cast is full of commanding young actors. Audiences were excited to see Harry Styles and Florence Pugh sharing the screen in starring roles. Gemma Chan, Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, Kiki Layne and Kate Berlant fill out the rest of the cast, and have all been captivating actors in recent years. A great meal is not made with just the right ingredients though.
Florence Pugh and Chris Pine are the best aspect of the film
The supporting cast all appear to have been told too little or nothing at all about the tone of the film. When they appear, it is like they have wildly different ideas about the point of each scene. There is an unpleasant cocktail of drama, satire, and thriller being grasped at. Harry Styles does not give a necessarily deficient performance, but simply does not have the command of the screen needed for his character to cohere with the rest of the film. Florence Pugh and Chris Pine are the best aspect of the film, and the only actors who have enough charismatic poise to quash the ill-thought characterisation.
It is pretty much impossible to understand some decisions characters make, especially in the third act. This exemplifies the prevailing problem with Don’t Worry Darling: it appears they thought of almost every detail for around five minutes.
Providing a perfect life for your husband is not a paradise
The social commentary and themes running throughout Don’t Worry Darling purport to be a feminist look at the phony ideal of being a housewife, and how providing a perfect life for your husband is not a paradise, but a cruel confining trap. While Alice is cleaning the walls, they start to close in around her, and the cling film is literally suffocating her. This is not wrong, but is the sort of message that would only have been radical at least 50 years ago.
There are of course serious threats to women and their rights in contemporary society. On the other hand, Don’t Worry Darling chooses to portray such an orthodox feminist message, I think both my grandads would find nothing contentious about it. The messages being so tame led to the film just feeling dull, as they once again showed the same motif and concepts.
One of the silliest third acts I have seen in recent years
Finally, the ending. If you don’t want to know anything at all about the film, maybe don’t read on. There is a huge twist in Don’t Worry Darling, and it creates one of the silliest third acts I have seen in recent years. It adds nothing to the film, and I can only imagine it is there to make people say, “I didn’t see that coming”.
Don’t Worry Darling is a film where the design and style is great, but none of the substance has been thought through.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.