If being on a tantalizing knife edge is something you’re a fan of, Don’t Worry Darling serves that up and then some.
Written by Alex Gilston / September 26, 2022
Olivia Wilde takes another ride in the directors chair with Don’t Worry Darling, a sinisterly laced mystery thriller with some powerhouse performances and delectable visuals to chew on.
Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) lives in a closed off community called Victory; An idealistic Stepford Wives-esque town where the women stay at home, cooking and cleaning whilst the men, including Alice’s husband Jack (Harry Styles), go and do their secret jobs to bring home the bread. The perfect life. But when one of the wives starts questioning why they are there, Alice’s paranoia begins to get the better of her, manifesting in various claustrophobic ways. Don’t Worry Darlings narrative will be its biggest point of contention, but it ticks along at just the right pace. The tension dials up from fairly early on and keeps building right up until it’s devilish crescendo. It might seem as though the final revelations are rushed but leaving some things to the imagination is more effective. Serving more unnecessary detail could have left it feeling messy.
Don’t Worry Darling is figure-headed by a powerhouse performance from Florence Pugh. Her talent is no secret and we all know she can lead a picture, but she shines here in a way she maybe hasn’t before. She completely immerses herself in the role and it makes her struggles more believable. Going through the difficult events of the movie is easier and more effective because of her, and she does it better than anyone else that could have taken up the role. Harry Styles is odd if anything. He’s not as bad as some low-res out of context clips might have you believe, but in that same vein he isn’t a revelation either. Chris Pine’s sickly presence is felt throughout as Frank, the leader of Victory, and is probably one of the only other cast members to come toe to toe with Pugh in the whole thing.
Visually, Don’t Worry Darling delivers. The pastel aesthetic is meant to make you believe things are perfect. The sun-trapped colours help to lend a positive spin on Victory long before the cracks start to show. The 1950s style setting also means we get some ravishing costume design. Each dress that Florence Pugh wears is easily a moment within itself.
Thankfully Olivia Wilde proves that she isn’t a one trick pony with her second directorial outing. The seat is warm now and you can tell. Everything is so intentional and there are some cleverly blocked out sequences. One scene features Alice in her home as a window literally squashes her, and it’s so masterfully presented that you can’t help but get sweaty palms.
If you can ignore the controversy that has surrounded Don’t Worry Darling, which admittedly it’s impossible to, and go in with as open a mind as possible, there is more than enough to make it a worthwhile cinematic experience. There’s absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the controversy has affected the films reception, when realistically it deserves consideration beyond the controversy altogether. It’s hard to deny, when you look at all the ingredients, that it’s a cracking flick.