"Don't Worry Darling" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
I think the controversies and the behind-the-scenes rift received more headlines than the actual movie itself when it comes to Olivia Wilde's "Don't Worry Darling". Everyone is aware that there is bad blood between Wilde and the film's star, Florence Pugh, with the latter refusing to talk to Wilde or do press for the movie. Most recently, however, there was a huge controversy over Harry Styles allegedly spitting on Chris Pine while at the Venice Film Festival, which has since been denied. With all of the controversy and press surrounding the film, it is expected for this movie to either be really good or totally bomb. With this film however, it contains some very good scenes and acting performances, but also has flaws and an interesting conclusion to this infamous 2022 film.
The movie is centered around Pugh's character Alice, who lives in a perfect 1950s society with her husband Jack (Styles). They are friends with everyone in the town of Victory, which was founded by the creator and leader of the Victory Project, Frank (Chris Pine), where all of the husbands in town work. While the husbands are at work, the women do chores around the house and spend their days shopping and gossiping with the other women in town.
However, when Alice starts to feel off and notices haunting things happening around town (as well as in her dreams), she knows something is not right. This seemingly-perfect town is not what it seems, and Alice takes it upon herself to find out what is going on. When she investigates deeper and deeper into this, she puts herself at risk by trying to find the sinister force that runs the town.
The first thing I want to mention here is Pugh's fantastic performance. Her first notable role was in Ari Aster's "Midsommar", which is a shockingly dark and disturbing film. Her character in that film has some great scenes that show her acting chops, and this movie just builds upon Pugh's display of acting chops. This movie is basically one big panic attack for Alice, and Pugh does not falter or disappoint at all throughout this movie. At the same time, she is able to give this performance in a way where she conveys multiple layers to her performance. It's not so black-and-white where she's happy one moment and sad the next, but those emotions and feelings linger throughout as the movie progresses.
Styles, who is pretty new to the film world, gives a decent performance for the most part. He makes this character of Jack very charming and lovable, and steals every scene he is in. But that's the problem - when I watch this movie, I don't see Jack. I see pop superstar Harry Styles. This isn't Style's fault, but I would say more of the fact that Wilde really used Styles genuine charm and lovability to make this character so likable. However, when they get to the scenes where Styles raises his voice or act seriously, it's one of those things where it's hard to take him seriously. With everyone in the world, myself included, loving Styles and his music, it's hard to see past that and watch an actual character performance. He is starring in a drama later this year about a gay man, and I have a feeling he'll have a much better performance in that movie than he had here.
Perhaps the only thing better than Pugh's performance is the beautiful and stunning cinematography by Matthew Libatique. This is, without a doubt, the most beautiful and visually striking film this year. Him and Wilde show how they're able to perfectly capture and plan every shot to add to the plot and the building suspense throughout. It's haunting, it's colorful, it's beautiful, and so much more. It's hard to not be taken away from the plot and focus on the beautiful landscapes and camera shot that Libatique is able to capture.
The first two thirds of this film set up a great plot and good build-up, but then sort of ruins it when the answers start being revealed. From the first few minutes of this movie, I was already figuring where this movie was heading, and I was right when they finally revealed what was really going on. I was thinking that it was a decent reveal and twist, but then the filmmakers decide to add in this aspect that just takes it one step way too far for me. It was just out of the blue, and didn't really seem necessary for the twist. I think they just made it too complicated and thoughtful that they kind of bit themselves in the butt with it. Then, at the same time, Wilde left so many plot holes open without resolution and leaves a sort of unsatisfying ending to the movie. There is so much that still needed to be answered that unfortunately wasn't.
Another aspect I didn't really enjoy was how Wilde started to shove her feminism ideals down our throats towards the end. Now, there is a very good way to get your point across in a movie, I can list hundreds of examples of this. But towards the end, she basically gave a huge middle finger to the entire male race, and didn't feel apologetic about it. She just kept going and going til the end. It makes me beg the question as to why was this necessary? There was no reason to involve politics or social commentary to a film like this in the way she did. Yes, of course there is some that should be present since the plot kind of builds up to it, but Wilde took it five steps too far.
Overall, however, I did really enjoy this movie. I thought it was fun and I did have a good time watching it, despite the flaws and weird choices present. I wouldn't say this is an amazing film, but I still think it did a pretty good job of entertaining the audience and telling a story like this. It seems like a blockbuster that adds more thoughtful elements than any regular blockbuster film, and for that, I applaud the filmmakers and the cast for taking a chance on this movie and delivering it to the best of their ability.