If there’s one film where the behind the scenes drama has nearly overshadowed the final product, then it’s Don’t Worry Darling. From clashing claims about acting and directorial behavior to drama about a possible spitting incident, this movie has it all. But what remains to be asked at this time, is the final film as interesting as the making? Have you seen Don’t Worry Darling? Let me know in the comments below.
As I sit here, a day on from seeing Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort, Don’t Worry Darling, I’m still not sure what I think about it. Wilde’s screenplay is about a love-struck couple, Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), who live in a quaint 1950s-styled town called Victory. Despite the veneer of comfort and routine, Alice soon finds cracks in the seemingly perfect lifestyle as she fears its founder, Frank (Chris Pine), has sinister intentions of control.
To its credit, Don’t Worry Darling’s direction is dazzling. A spirited series of camera moves capture conversations as though they’re a free-flowing slice of Americana that feels entrenched in screwball comedy. This aspect is coupled with tense dreamy sequences whereby symmetry and guilt work in tandem to disturb the viewer. Darling’s intrigue is its secret weapon, guiding us through a pristine puzzle that eventually unravels into something altogether sordid and nasty.
In its subtext, Wilde’s movie has the sense of the 1950s American stereotype of the nuclear family and father knows best mentality. This is coupled with dramatic scenes that in spirit try to capture the social commentary of Henrick Ibsen’s plays, whereby the female characters felt trapped by the social malaises and men of their time.
Despite this, I don’t think Wilde is saying anything particularly groundbreaking or potent on a thematic level. Part of this comes from very rushed third-act plotting that pulls down the curtain of its mystery box in ways that mystify the audience in its thematic implications.
In this way, I was reminded of another 2022 movie, The Batman. Like that film, I wish Don’t Worry Darling was more subversive and interesting as opposed to feeling like it’s pulling its punches in its meaning. However, Florence Pugh’s powerhouse central performance and Wilde’s direction kept me engaged.
But as it stands, Don’t Worry Darling is just not that interesting compared to similar movies that explore disenchanted and paranoid female protagonists such as Black Swan, Spencer and The Invisible Man.