Director: Olivia Wilde
Writer: Katie Silberman
Starring: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Chris Pine
The trailer for Don’t Worry Darling, Olivia Wilde’s second feature length outing as a director, is one of the best trailers of recent memory. It was completely enticing, and while it felt very much like The Stepford Wives, it still looked like the film was going to be something special. Then before it was even released the film got bogged down in a lot of very messy drama, and that seemed to overshadow everything. Now the film is out, and underneath all of the hype and news headlines it’s a fairly standard thriller, but it could have been so much more.
The mystery at the heart and centre of the story is really interesting at the beginning. Everyone is living in a seemingly perfect community surrounding the Victory Project, at least until Alice (Florence Pugh) starts to suspect that not everything is what it seems. She’s experiencing strange hallucinations, and no one believes her, not even her loving husband Jack (Harry Styles). Quite quickly it becomes evident that there’s something wrong, and nothing seems to be adding up. The strange dreams that Alice is having are hypnotic and even when she’s awake it feels like she’s never safe.
Florence Pugh is excellent, as usual, giving a stunning performance that pretty much makes the film, especially in the scenes where she comes face to face with Chris Pine, who is also on top form. Pine plays Frank, the leader of the Victory Project, who is very sinister and sleazy throughout the film. Styles, on the other hand, is horribly miscast, and while you’re watching it you can’t help but think that the film would be better if there was someone else in the role, who had with better chemistry with Pugh. There’s even a moment later in the film that tries to explain the way he’s acting and his dodgy accent, but it’s doesn’t make his performance any better. It’s a copout explanation at best.
It takes way too long to get there, but the mystery is explained pretty much all at once towards the end of the film, and that’s when everything goes wrong. It’s making a point about misogyny, with things like how men can feel inadequate if they earn less than their partners, but what’s actually going on is so underwhelming. It’s not original and is a waste of everything that was building up to that point. Worst of all, the reveal just raises even more questions that I won’t go into due to spoilers, and the more time you spend thinking about it, the more it unravels.
Going into spoiler territory a little, right at the end there’s a chase sequence with Alice running away from everyone living in the community. It’s supposed to be tense, with you willing Alice to survive and get away, but because of the twist you’re just questioning why aren’t the bad guys doing this, why aren’t they doing that? I won’t delve any further into spoilers, but I was not invested in the chase at all, because it just makes no sense.
Don’t Worry Darling is sadly a massive disappointment. While there are some fresh ideas, it’s incredibly derivative of other stories like The Stepford Wives and WandaVision.There are some good performances, but it’s way too long and the answer to the mystery is just lacklustre. If you’re going to see this based purely on the trailer, then set your expectations much lower. The trailer is excellent, the full thing is only okay. It’s still enjoyable and while you’re figuring it all out, the mystery it is engaging, but overall, it’s largely forgettable.
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