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Quick Review: Don't Worry Darling
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The following is my review for the film Don’t Worry Darling. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
A fifties housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.
In 2019, actress Olivia Wilde pulled off a massively successful directorial debut with Booksmart, a coming of age “gal pal” comedy that received critical acclaim and made many a “Best of the Year” lists. While I’ve warmed up to the film a bit since, I personally wasn’t as in love with it as my peers were; but I did come away extremely impressed with Wilde’s direction and hoped to see her continue her newfound talents in that part of the movie-making process. Enter her next film, Don’t Worry Darling, a movie that is different from her previous effort not just in genre but in size and scope overall.
And from a directorial standpoint I’d argue she delivered once again. I’d even go as far as to say she grew and became even better with her direction. I really hope regardless all the backstage drama that plagued this film’s Venice Film Festival Premiere and Harry Style stans’ twitter threads that it doesn’t hamper her continuation of being behind the camera as much as she is in front of it - and she does good work in her supporting role for this one when she’s in front of the camera as well.
Aside from the great direction, the technical aspects and crafts of the movie are all incredibly well executed. The cinematography is beautiful, the costume and production designs are eye candy, and the score and soundtrack are true highlights.
Yes Harry Styles as Jack, our protagonist Alice’s husband, is the weakest part of what I found to be a pretty solid ensemble, but past needing to do better emoting in their arguing scenes he’s not as atrocious as some of my peers have called his performance out as. Standouts are truly Florence Pugh as our leading lady and easily our MVP of the film; plus Chris Pine who executes his villainous role as the shady company executive behind this utopian town, with the alluring charisma and frightening aura of a cult leader.
The film touches on themes in regard to the regressive history of male control over women with examples such as the unrealistic fantasy men have on being treated like kings when they return from work, getting laid anytime they want rather than when their partner is ready, wives being expected to do all the chores, and the gaslighting women can experience from male authority figures or even their own husbands or boyfriends. And I was mighty impressed that it pulled all this off in a subtle enough way within its own premise that I wasn’t feeling like the movie was too one dimensional or beating you over the head with its themes. Quite frankly up until the final act, I was beginning to think I was going to be in the group of dissenters who enjoyed this film - and then the twist that sets up the finale hits.
Its not so much that the twist is necessarily a bad one in my view so much as how it executes wrapping up so much and yet leaving too many plot holes behind when the conclusion is put into motion. And somehow the film’s ability to hit its themes without feeling too one dimensional suddenly went away once the movie shifts with the twist. It makes what was a pretty enjoyable experience become a bit of a sloppy mess towards the end for a screenplay that could have used some serious polishing for that third act.
But even with the flawed decisions it makes in what it does with its reveals at the end, and a questionable use of one minority supporting role that is used in a regressive manner, this is still a decent mystery film with interesting ideas and themes. While it does have its issues, I have to say I enjoyed this more than I anticipated I was going to. If you’re the kind of person who loves these kind of thrillers, specifically in the same vein of an Amazing Tales, Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits type of story, I would honestly say don’t worry too much darling about the backstage drama and give this one a shot.