Movie & Television Show Reviews

Plenty To Worry About |  “Don’t Worry Darling” (2022) Movie Review

When a film garners a reputation for its behind-the-scenes drama, it’s very often that said drama is more interesting than the film itself (i.e. Joss Whedon’s cut of “Justice League,” “Fan4stic,” etc.). Such is the case of Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” whose feud between Wilde and lead Florence Pugh would probably make for a more interesting picture. 

The film follows Alice (Pugh) and Jack Chambers (Harry Styles) in the 1950s, who are a young married couple living in the company town of Victory, Calif. Jack is an engineer working for Victory (the company), which we are told is doing top-secret work that might involve the U.S. government (the film gives strong implications that they are developing nukes). 

Everything seems perfect in Victory as the two live out an idealized version of the American Dream in a cul-de-sac, until the company’s CEO, Frank (Chris Pine), invites all his employees and their wives over for a get together, in which Margaret Watkins (KiKi Layne), an outcast among the wives, starts acting out. Alice then starts getting strange visions that hint that things are not as they seem in the town. 

I cannot fully write about this movie without spoiling it. So I will do so, with this spoiler warning. 

The big reveal of the film is that everything takes place in a virtual reality world like in “Sword Art Online” in which if you die in the game world, you die in real life. In a time close to the present day, the whole thing is orchestrated by jealous male partners who want to live out an idealized version of the past, in which their female partners become the perfect housewives. Most wives have their memories from the present day blocked and are not in the simulation consensually, which is why Frank stresses that everyone who partakes in it exercises discretion above all else. 

@inreviewmovies

Harry Styles was much better than expected in “Don’t Worry Darling.” The clip that circulated before the film released of his confrontation with Florence Pugh’s character is not necessarily representative of his performance as a whole. #DontWorryDarling #HarryStyles #StarFox #Marvel #HarryStylesDeservedBetter

♬ Sia – Xeptemper

The film hints several times that something is off in the town, but I do admit that this reveal leaves a lot to be desired. There are several very good scenes and moments in this film — Pugh carries it firmly on her shoulders with a very strong performance. Despite the initial backlash at his performance after an awkward clip from the movie was released, Styles’ performance is also fine. He won’t win any awards for it, but he for the most part carries his own, and where he stumbles is mostly the fault of the film’s peculiar dialogue and inconsistent direction — even Pine at times struggles with this material. 

The film’s direction is all over the place. It has some very visually-stunning scenes that stand out and are memorable, but there are also times where the film doesn’t know what tone it should be going for or what to do. It is still mostly enjoyable up until its reveal, but once we get there, the film trips and never gets back up. It’s a shame, because I feel like this film had a lot of potential, especially if it went all-in on its premise, which it half commits to. 

Outside a few brilliant moments, the film is mostly unremarkable and unfocused. Pugh’s performance elevates the film and saves it from mediocrity — her vulnerability, affection towards Jack and the way we see her character process the situation makes her instantly relatable, likeable and memorable. But it is not enough to smooth the film’s rough edges, nor bring weight to its rushed, unsatisfying conclusion. 

“Don’t Worry Darling” gets a 7/10

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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