I’m worried, darling

Quilla Chavez, Staff Writer

Following Olivia Wilde’s successful directorial debut with Booksmart, critics and moviegoers had high expectations for her follow-up film starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles: Don’t Worry Darling. Not only was this film meant to establish her as one of the most promising up-and-coming female directors, but it was also slated to be Harry Styles’ significant acting debut.

Unfortunately, the drama and interpersonal conflicts among the actors and crew were more entertaining and produced more buzz than the actual film.

Don’t Worry Darling follows Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), a couple living in the 1950s utopian community of Victory, where the men go off to work every day and the women are stereotypical housewives. Early in the movie, Alice starts to have unsettling visions and a fellow housewife informs her that charming Victory leader Frank (Chris Pine) is lying to everyone, which leads Alice to believe that not all is as it appears.

The film’s themes of patriarchy, women’s autonomy, and gender norms are immediately apparent, ones that are particularly relevant and pertinent in today’s society. Wilde attempts to critique how the patriarchy contributes to women losing control over their own bodies, but she lacks the skill to adequately examine the issue in the 120+ minute runtime.

The weak pacing, which spends too much time on the glitz and glamour of Victory rather than investing time developing the third act’s exciting ideas, is ultimately to blame for this. There are too many open-ended questions and not nearly enough details provided on Victory’s origins, which causes narrative gaps.

That being said, there are still many positives about the film such as its direction, costume and set design, acting, and score. “Don’t Worry Darling” has some of the most breathtaking shots, only further enhanced by the vibrant and stylistic costumes and sets. The score creates a tense and eerie atmosphere, especially when paired with the unsettling, intermittent shots of 1950s showgirls dancing and smiling directly at the camera.

Florence Pugh and Chris Pine absolutely devour their roles, and even Gemma Chan shines with her limited screen time. While he doesn’t impress like the other seasoned actors, Harry Styles is nowhere near as bad as the Internet would have you believe. Even if his passionate, angry outbursts weren’t the best, he gave a respectable effort in his debut and had good chemistry with Pugh.

There are films like The Stepford Wives and The Truman Show, which have very similar concepts and actually execute them well, but if you are simply interested in seeing an entertaining movie or are too invested in the behind-the-scenes drama, you won’t regret spending $15 at the theater.

In short, Don’t Worry Darling is too ambitious for its own good and ultimately falls short of its thematic goals, but still manages to deliver an exhilarating thriller if you don’t look too closely. In the words of Harry Styles, “My favorite thing about the movie is that it seems like a movie,” couldn’t be more perfect.