A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets.
Every so often a film comes along that seems to generate more controversy for what happens off the screen, than what happens on the screen, and the latest film to fit that mould is Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’. Rumours abound that Wilde fell out with her lead actress Florence Pugh, whilst in tandem starting a relationship with her lead actor Harry Styles (who in turn was rumoured – unsubstantiated I believe, to have fallen out with Chris Pine, the key supporting actor in the movie). They do say there’s no such thing as bad publicity and in the case of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’, it doesn’t appear to have done any harm to the movie which has done very well at the box office despite some middling reviews.
The movie takes place in a seemingly idyllic community in California, where the sun always shines and the inhabitants want for nothing, spending much of their time lounging by a pool and enjoying cocktail parties. The reason these individuals live in this community is due to their husbands jobs on a top secret project, where the men depart every day leaving their wives to essentially be housewives. One of these couples is Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles), and we see this environment primarily through Alice’s eyes, from the initial supposed paradise to her gradually starting to realise that all might not be as it seems. They’re in this community due to Frank (Chris Pine), the charismatic founder and leader of the Victory Project, who has attracted various couples to move to this isolated community – it’ll come as no surprise that his motives may not be entirely above board. Much of the film is driven by Pugh’s powerhouse performance, which is better than the film she’s in, which is kind of messy, kind of trashy and mostly entertaining if a little too long.
A lot has been said about Harry Styles given his fame as a pop singer and the best thing you can say about him is he’s suitably fine and a little bland as Jack, albeit I suspect that is partly by design. Pugh and Pine are the two performers that hold your attention and I enjoyed ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ best when it pit them against one another. The themes Wilde is attempting to explore would constitute a spoiler so I will avoid details, although I shall say it’ll become clear fairly early on, and I did quite like how she revealed the film’s secrets, even if the exploration doesn’t delve much below the surface. ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is a fitfully entertaining movie, largely down to Pugh’s performance and an intriguing mystery premise, even as it struggles with pacing and never fully delivers on its themes.
Directed By: Olivia Wilde
Starring: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, KiKi Layne and Gemma Chan