Don't Worry Darling Review
When Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directing effort Don’t Worry Darling was announced to be a horror film off the heels of the wildly popular Booksmart back in 2019, I was both intrigued and excited. But when Florence Pugh was cast and I was sold. For Pugh, this seemed like an excellent choice after her major success in the genre previously with Midsommar, and for Wilde seeing her tackle another genre after succeeding with a coming-of-age comedy felt exciting. The film's first trailer was mysterious and compelling, with glimpses of Pugh giving another mesmerizing performance amid the backdrop of a picture-perfect mid-century, suburban utopia. And then came all the drama leading up to the press tour surrounding the film's release. A supposed beef between director and star. An infamous loogie. The love triangle drama between Olivia Wilde, her ex Jason Sudeikis, and her lead actor Harry Styles. And of course the Chris Pine of it all. Don’t Worry Darling had to be downright amazing to rise above all its pressure.
Don’t Worry Darling centers on Alice (Florence Pugh) a 1950s housewife who is very in love with and devoted to her husband Jack (Harry Styles). As with all women in the neighborhood, Alice stays home and keeps house while her husband works at a job so secretive, that he's not allowed to tell his wife about the details of his day-to-day life. Alice unflinchingly accepts this is the way of things and spends her days with the other trophy wife women of the neighborhood as they fill their days with dance classes and gossiping by the pool. One day, Alice’s perfect world begins to unravel when another woman in the community starts voicing that they’re all being lied to. Alice initially trusts the patriarchal system over her friend’s claim, but once weird occurrences start happening to Alice, she can’t ignore that everything feels off.
Don’t Worry Darling wants to think it’s an important film giving new commentary on misogyny, but it really isn’t saying or doing anything new. It’s a reinvented Stepford Wives but feels a bit more basic. Florence Pugh holds the whole thing together but gets little help from her supporting cast, particularly a woefully miscast Harry Styles. Had this role gone to a more capable actor, we might be more invested in this relationship--which is pretty important for a third-act revelation to work (which it doesn’t). So while Pugh certainly tries her hardest to make this film great with her stellar performance, the film requires a strong supporting performance from the Jack character to truly come together. She just doesn’t get that from Styles. But let's get back to that aforementioned third-act revelation which gives the viewer way more questions than answers. The film tries so hard with its commentary that it overlooks making any narrative sense. The plot holes abound. But hey, at least it’s pretty to look at! Along with Pugh, the costumes and production design were the best things the film had going for it.
All in all, Don’t Worry Darling is fine but definitely not as smart as it thinks it is and certainly not worth all the fuss. What will be more interesting at this point is seeing how all of the players come out of this. Pugh will be fine of course since the film’s failings are no fault of her own, but Wilde and Styles had a lot more riding on this and will certainly take the blame for the press tour shenanigans. They might have cause to worry, darling.