Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Don’t Worry Darling
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writer: Katie Silberman, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke
Cast: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, KiKi Layne, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll,Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Asif Ali, Douglas Smith, Timothy Simons, Ari’el Stachel
Seen on: 19.10.2022

Content Note: gaslighting

Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) live in the Victory Project. While Jack goes off to his top secret work every day, Alice takes care of the household and meets with the other housewives of the Victory Project. The project itself is led by the charismatic Frank (Chris Pine). But when one of the women, Margaret (KiKi Layne) shows signs of mental illness with paranoid ideas, Alice, too, begins to question Frank and the project.

With all the press shenanigans and the lukewarm reactions about Don’t Worry Darling, I went into the film expecting basically the worst. Fortunately it’s really not that bad. But that doesn’t mean it is much good, either.

The film poster showing Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) cuddled together in bed.

As for most critics, my biggest issue lies with the ending and how they resolved the story. I did expect something different (not necessarily better) that aligned somewhat with the resolution we got, so I guess the twist part of it worked. But what bothered me was twofold: one, the movie ends where it should begin, with the liberation of the women in the film. And two, the twist puts the movie in a particular genre and I got the distinct impression that the filmmakers actually don’t know that genre that well.

It does make some good comments about the patriarchy and the need for feminism, even today. But then it muddles up its own message with things like Shelley’s (the unfortunately underused Gemma Chan) final act that reeks of girlbossing (although, honestly, I absolutely celebrated it from a revenge perspective). I think the issue here is mostly one of pacing: if the film had spent less time on set-up and given itself more time to sit with its solution and the consequences of it, things wouldn’t have felt so rushed in the end that there is a slight ridiculousness to it all.

Alice (Florence Pugh) looking doubtfully at an egg. Jack (Harry Styles) is standing behind her.

But even if the ending wasn’t what it should be, there is a lot to be said for what came before it. Pugh carries us through the film and she is more than capable to do so. Pine is great as Frank, though I don’t think that a man like him would react to being challenged in that way (that is a script issue though, and not one with his performance). Wilde’s Bunny is also definitely interesting, while Styles’ Jack remains colorless, making us all wonder how Alice and Jack ended up together (even more so after the plot reveal). [With us in the cinema were a couple of young women who, I shit you not, literally gasped when they saw the way Past!Jack looked.]

The film looks fantastic – cinematography, costumes, sets are all really excellent. I also quite liked the dream images in black and white, although they get used maybe a tad too much, and the reveal where they come from didn’t make much sense to me.

Altogether the film is decent enough and definitely watchable, but I can’t help but feel that it had the potential to be so much better than it was.

Frank (Chris Pine) giving an inspirational speech to his guests.

Summarizing: it’s okay.

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