Are you ready to live the life you deserve?
Don't Worry Darling is a 2022 psychological thriller film directed by Olivia Wilde, written by Kate Silberman, produced by New Line Cinema and Vertigo Entertainment, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles.
"They're lying about everything!" - Alice Chambers
Jack and Alice Chambers are living in paradise. Under the shadow of the mysterious "Victory Project", they live a utopian life where the sun is always shining and everyone is happy. However, Alice soon realizes that something is very wrong as cracks in the utopia threaten the safety of her perfect life.
Florence Pugh / Psychological Elements / Quiet Tension Building / Chris Pine / Production Design / Third Act / Non-Sensical Screenplay / Repetitiveness / Wilde's Direction / Hidden Messaging
The one thing that everyone seems to agree on about Don't Worry Darling is Florence Pugh is the real deal.
She is probably the biggest up-and-coming star in Hollywood right now. She started gaining recognition with Fighting with My Family and Midsommar, then truly broke out last year after joining the MCU in Black Widow. This is another star-making performance, and, with her having been cast in Dune: Part Two and Oppenheimer, it's safe to say that she is an A-list talent at this point. In Don't Worry Darling, she gives this slow, layered performance that puts all of her talent on display. She can communicate exactly how she's feeling with a smile. You know her happy smile. And you know her sad or scared smile. It's that type of nuance that makes this a truly fantastic performance from her.
Don't Worry Darling is a psychological thriller, and it definitely delivers on the psychological aspect of that. I haven't seen The Stepford Wives, but many people are comparing it to that. I felt a lot of WandaVision vibes from it. The creepy false reality makes for a very unsettling environment and makes it very easy for the film to mess with your head. You may feel exhausted after this movie, but I mean that in a good way. It immerses you in this world in such an uneasy way, getting into your mind and just showing you some crazy things.
In most thrillers, individual scenes create intense scenarios that make you anxious, but once that scene is over, you feel a release, like you can relax now. Not this movie. This film quietly builds its tension to the point where you barely notice the intensity ramping up. But every scene makes you more nervous and more uncomfortable, and it does it really subtly, which was an element I really, really dug.
The other thing that contributes to that slow tension build is Chris Pine. Pugh's performance is much easier to praise because she's front and center throughout the entire film. Pine doesn't have a lot of screentime, but every time he is on screen, he steals the spotlight. He is the perfect creepy charmer. You know something is off about this guy. You know he's manipulative. But he presents himself as the nicest possible guy, even though he's really, really sus. It's a great performance that just adds to the intensity of this film.
I also thought the production design was fabulous. The whole point of this movie is this unsure reality, but a reality obviously has to seem real, so this whole fifties paradise is done really well. It feels very grandiose and utopian with a fifties filter put over the whole thing. There are record players and old-timey music. The cars are all from the fifties. The costumes all feel like products of their time. And it just adds to the creep factor and false utopia.
This film is a mess.
It starts off really strong. It built this intense, intriguing mystery with some super creepy goings-on. However, as the film continues, it just gets worse...and worse...and worse, to where by the third act, it's almost completely fallen apart. It goes for the inevitable big plot twist...and it's very underwhelming. It feels lazy and is an unsatisfying payoff to the mystery. Then, even after the twist, it resolves the story in a really lame way. Characters make decisions that make no sense. Terrible things happen and characters have no reaction to them. It just completely loses itself.
The biggest problem with this film is the screenplay. It was holding together for the most part, but then that third act just doesn't work at all. The film leaves so many questions unanswered and just leaves a ridiculous amount of plot holes. When you think about it, the twist doesn't even make sense. The more I think about how bad this movie's ending is, the less I like it.
This movie also gets insanely repetitive. I'd say the first half of this movie is solid, but that second half is just rough. At one point, the trippy images and odd occurrences get boring. You want something to happen that moves the plot forward instead of just another creepy scene. Eventually the plot starts to move, but it happens way later than you want it to. The creepy scenes even start to recycle imagery, which is just lazy filmmaking.
Another problem I have is actually Olivia Wilde's direction. I was not a fan of her stylistic choices...at all. She kind of pulled me out of the movie. For example, she uses these creepy, whispery sound effects to try to add more tension into the film, and I just found them annoying and distracting. She also is the reason that the creepy scenes get repetitive, so I just have to knock her for that.
Backing off of Wilde's direction, Don't Worry Darling seems to have some kind of thematic consistency that, like everything else in this film, just falls apart in the end. Since you don't really know what's going on for most of the movie, it's hard to tell exactly what the messaging of the movie is, but when it becomes clear, it feels like a slap in the face. It doesn't fit the movie at all. It just makes it worse.
Final Thoughts and Score
Don't Worry Darling is a mess. Great performances and half of a good psychological thriller makes it all the more frustrating when the movie just collapses in the last part.
I think I will barely go Savory here. Age range is 13+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Don't Worry Darling"
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Directed by Olivia Wilde
Rated R for moderate violence, sexual content, language, frightening themes and images, thematic elements
Released on September 23, 2022
2 hours and 3 minutes
Florence Pugh as Alice Chambers
Harry Styles as Jack Chambers
Olivia Wilde as Bunny
Chris Pine as Frank
KiKi Layne as Margaret
Gemma Chan as Shelley
Kate Berlant as Peg
Nick Kroll as Bill
Sydney Chandler as Violet
Timothy Simons as Dr. Collins
Asif Ali as Peter
Douglas Smith as John