Don’t Worry Darling is directed by Olivia Wilde, and it stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine. The film tells the story of husband and wife who live in a fifties-style enclosed community, but as the plot unfolds, Alice (Pugh) starts to suspect that there is something sinister about the community’s leader, a charismatic, ubiquitous cult leader named Frank (Pine).
Don’t Worry Darling is a collection of tired themes and plots reminiscent of Pleasantville and most notably The Stepford Wives. The plot twist revealed before the third act is predictable within the film’s first five minutes, and almost all of the problems with the film’s characters and emotional depth could have been solved by moving that twist to the midpoint.
Most of the character interaction is about convincing the audience either that Jack (Styles) and Alice live perfect lives or that something is off in the community, but both are blatantly obvious from the outset. Therefore, the audience spends most of Don’t Worry Darling’s 122-minute runtime waiting for the film to catch up with the audience, not the other way around, and the action is repetitive; it doesn’t help that there is one surreal sequence that the filmmakers edit in approximately five times whenever the audience is meant to feel a sense of creepiness.
These story problems sacrifice character depth, and the twist offers more questions than answers with deeper character conflicts are merely hinted at, rather than fully explored. Whereas a film like Revolutionary Road explores how domesticity confines women, Don’t Worry Darling’s couple are never fully fleshed out characters even though it is dipping its toes in the same theme and thesis.
The problems with the film are not related to its performances or direction. Olivia Wilde frames some of her shots quite well, and the choreography of the action sequences works. Florence Pugh is always brilliant, though Don’t Worry Darling does not stretch, or fully utilize, her talents. Chris Pine is fantastically menacing villain, and his is the only performance that offers anything new or note-worthy.
Harry Styles is also there.
Most of the press about Don’t Worry Darling has centered on its behind-the-camera controversy, but all of that drama surrounds a rather banal, cliched film that ultimately doesn’t deserve the buzz.