“Don’t Worry Darling” Review: A Spectacle Worth Seeing
By Julia Barth, Editor-in-Chief
“Don’t Worry Darling” seems to be the only thing people in the media can talk about right now. I think it’s my turn to hop on that train. The highly anticipated psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh (“Midsommar” and “Little Women”) and Harry Styles (singer/songwriter, former member of One Direction, female heartthrob) was released in theaters on Sept. 23 to audiences who were eager to devour and dissect it bit by bit.
Directed by Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”), the movie was slated to be a hit. Wilde made an effort to appeal to a larger audience with her star-studded cast (Pugh and Styles were joined by Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Nick Kroll) and innovative take on a 1950s utopia. Instead, “Don’t Worry Darling” gots its infamous popularity from the rumors and drama that surrounded its release — leaving critics to wonder how it would perform in the box office.
The film follows Alice (Pugh) and her husband, Jack (Styles) as they live a breezy life among other picture-perfect couples in the desert. They go to parties, they host dinners and they drink an absurd amount of alcohol, but most importantly, they live the 1950s fantasy dream life where the wife sends her husband to work every day with a full stomach and spends the rest of her time cleaning, cooking and shopping with her friends. No one questions what the husbands do. No one questions why they can’t leave their neighborhood. No one questions why women don’t have cars. You can guess where I’m going with this.
The routine of glitz and glamor fade into the background, however, as Pugh takes center stage. Her fanciful life doesn’t cut it for her anymore. Not because she doesn’t want it — she loves her life, and Jack especially — but because Alice begins to have visions and nightmares about her home and her community. She sees things that no one else can see, but doesn’t want to be deemed “crazy” like her neighbor, Margaret (Kiki Layne), has been. Alice even goes as far as to ignore Margaret’s pleas for her help, which, of course, backfires.
Without spoiling the thick plot of the movie, “Don’t Worry Darling” gives viewers something to think about. The 1950s utopia ends up overlapping seamlessly with our modern age, as Pugh’s character discovers throughout the movie. Despite a few notable plot holes (what was with the tremors and the plane?) and a lackluster performance by Styles (I really hate to admit it), the film carried itself carefully and revealed just enough at the right times.
Pugh’s performance was precise and on point, although she was a bit too animated during some of the more psychological scenes. Pine had the best performance of the cast, slipping out of his usual rom-com persona and into a more serious role — one that is the perfect intersection of charisma and cunning.
There were, of course, the cheesy elements that mark a thriller. The constant humming of a song that is somehow meaningful and will “change everything.” The repeated use of circles in the film’s imagery — cliche. It all sort of worked.
If Wilde’s goal with this film were to be guessed at, she’d want people to discuss its commentary on women’s issues and the overlapping nature of the digital age with discrimination. Toxic masculinity plays a huge role in this movie, and some serious gaslighting occurs to keep Alice and the other women in the dark. As she digs deeper and deeper to find the truth, lies and insecurity rise to the surface, playing out in a world in which you can’t always trust the people you love. Sigh.
But moving away from the philosophical and sociological “points” of the film, it is definitely enjoyable. I had fun; it was entertaining and made me think. I left the movie theater with a different outlook and had some fun conversations with my friends about it. Some may say I’m easily entertained (that is something I even say about myself), but I just think I go into things with an open mind. Although there are some faults with “Don’t Worry Darling,” I’d encourage you to give it a go, especially if your goal is to watch two attractive people experience some serious delusions.