Review: Don’t Worry Darling (Spoilers)


Few film’s develop a legacy before they ever premiere. Apocalypse Now had a well-documented cursed production highlighted by natural disasters, bloated budgets, Martin Sheen’s heart attack, and a fat Marlon Brando. But by the time the film came out many people could look at the end result and say that it was worth it. Don’t Worry Darling’s legacy will likely be remembered more for tabloid shenanigans but while it’s still a decent film, the results are nowhere near the hype.

This is has been a high-profile project for some time. Olivia Wilde’s directional follow up to Booksmart features one of the hottest actresses in the game in Florence Pugh, one of the world’s most high profile entertainers in Harry Styles, Chris Pine in a meaty supporting role, and the first trailer for this film sent this up to the top of many watchlists for 2022. Putting all the drama aside, it’s hard not to agree with what many of the critics are saying about this film. It looks beautiful and Pugh brings her A-game but the story is fairly vanilla and the ending is exactly what you thought it would be.

Don’t Worry Darling tells the story of Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles), a young married couple living a seemingly perfect life in the town of Victory, a corporation town in the 1950’s. When Alice starts to question what Jack and the other men are doing at The Victory Project, her grasp on what is and isn’t real about her seemingly perfect life starts to crumble.

The film is essentially the latest model of the Utopian-Society-Isn’t-What-It-Appears-To-Be starter pack. Act I is spent establishing the world of Victory and how happy everybody is. Things start to go haywire when one of Alice’s friends, Margaret (Kiki Layne), starts asking questions and Alice sees the governing body try to silence her and cover up what’s happening to her. Alice tries to get everyone to listen to her but nobody will believe her and tries to convince her that everything is perfect. This boils up to a point where she discovers the truth and SHOCKER: she was right the whole time. Turns out when all the men go off to work at The Victory Project they’re really logging out of an AI simulator that gives the people of Victory an illusion of a perfect life.

The thrills aren’t thrilling, the twists aren’t twisty, and Harry Styles fucking stinks here. Again, the film is beautifully shot so credit to Wilde, cinematographer Matthew Libatique (A Star is Born, Black Swan), and production designer Katie Byron (Booksmart). The issue is ultimately in the script and the direction. Don’t Worry Darling is officially a card carrying member of the Best Parts Are In The Trailer Club. Again, the first trailer for this movie was amazing but for anyone’s whose been to the movies or watched a commercial in the last year knows that there’s nothing in the egg, or that Alice’s reflection doesn’t mirror her, or that she isn’t in sync with her adult ballet class. There is quite frankly not one thing about this film that you don’t see coming from a mile away. To put it in terms of another recent recent HBO Max release, it’s the anti-Barbarian.

At the end of the day, this film will likely be remembered for whether or not Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine. It’s a cookie-cutter sci-fi thriller that looks a whole lot better than it is. I don’t expect this to compete in any awards races, not even Pugh’s performance. It’s a shame because Olivia Wilde is clearly a talented filmmaker but it feels as if she just hitched her horse to the wrong wagon with this one.

The film has been out for a few months at this point but just recently dropped on HBO Max. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, it’s a fine film. If you’re looking for something mildly entertaining, look elsewhere.

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