Written by: Katie Silberman
Starring: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Chris Pine
When someone’s basic needs and wants are covered, a level of satisfaction and fulfillment can lull anyone into accepting their surroundings. Why would you want to rock the boat and ruin something that provides you with a good life? The characters in Don’t Worry Darling find themselves in this dream space of a reality too good to be true, but when the cracks start to form, something more sinister begins to peer out from the corner.
Living the life of her dreams, Alice (Florence Pugh) has a wonderful hard-working husband, Jack (Harry Styles), and plenty of great fellow housewife friends to keep her entertained. Everyone in this manufactured idyllic company town has everything they need, but when Alice begins to witness strange inconsistencies, she starts to ask questions, which raises eyebrows amongst the men.
With a sensational feature film debut in Booksmart, Olivia Wilde had sky-high expectations set for her next film. With the ability to pick out her next feature and dazzle once again, she went for a high-concept narrative that carries risk in trying to tell. Quite the jump from a coming-of-age tale and with the stakes being much higher to meet those elevated expectations she definitely takes a step down but still creates something entertaining to experience amid all of its flaws.
Filled with plenty of drama and noise on the outside regarding on-set behavior, this film had such a raised profile and notoriety before its release, which definitely sullied the quality of this film before some even saw it. However, one thing that cannot be denied is that she is improving as a director is the best facet of this feature, other than Florence Pugh. She crafts a feature with such a slick presentation. Working as a period piece with a 1950s aesthetic of where this film takes place, this entire production is absolutely vibrant. Wilde certainly sits in firm control, despite what reports have indicated of her.
The major flaw of this film comes from its screenplay, which ultimately sinks it down and does not allow it to succeed. It’s certainly a mixed bag as the themes are really intriguing to follow. One of them is the 1950s and what they represent to white men as the golden age of life. A time when many wish we could go back to and the reasons are incredibly transparent when you think about it for more than a few seconds. It represents an era where men had complete control of their household, their wives were at home pumping out babies, and at their disposal sexually. As the providers a decent job meant that you could have it all, making this a period in time for those who feel laughably disenfranchised in this modern era something that symbolized America at its finest. The bones existed for this feature to thrive, but once it gets to the big reveal and the sinister machinations at play, it all falls flat.
When the third act arrives and the action picks up, the film could not land the narrative well, which ultimately hampers the experience from being great and brings it down to just being good. The idea needed more refinement and just did not cut it for what the feature wanted to achieve. It certainly went for it, but it ended up being quite the whimper.
The same certainly cannot be said about the central performance given by Florence Pugh. At this point, she has become one of the most undeniable stars of her generation and the way she has managed to curate her films is quite the wonder and the performances she gives are absolutely dazzling. Her work in Don’t Worry Darling is no different and she carries much of this film on her shoulders in conveying the themes and bringing her all. If anything her acting was too good that it made Harry Styles’s look even worse. You almost have to feel bad for Styles that he needs to act in several high-impact scenes opposite Pugh and she effortlessly acts circles around him. Even those who heavily dislike this feature know Pugh came to play and absolutely delivered the goods.
Big swings can lead to big misses, but I appreciate so much of what is done in Don’t Worry Darling. It works in relevant themes and Wilde crafts a wonderfully slick feature that absolutely shines in the first two-thirds. Its screenplay lets her down at the end but it makes me very excited to see how she continues to evolve as a filmmaker and what projects she elects to do next seeing as she’s a massive talent.