Don’t Worry Darling Review

Dont Worry Darling Review

Jack Armstrong, Staff Writer

Did Shia LaBeouf get fired from this movie? Did Florence Pugh dodge advertising this movie because of the drama on set? Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival? These are some of the thousands of questions I had prior to the release of Olivia Wilde’s new film, Don’t Worry Darling. If you have been on Twitter over the past few weeks, the press surrounding Don’t Worry Darling has been nothing short of mind-boggling. At every refresh of the home page, there seemed to be a new round of drama that was dropped onto the masses. It felt like the drama surrounding Olivia Wilde’s new project was a movie in and of itself. Needless to say, I was hooked! I was thoroughly entertained by everything that was seemingly going wrong with this movie. I respect pretty much everyone involved in this movie as artists, but there’s a part of me that thought it was funny to see so much press about a movie that had nothing to do with the story itself. It was all this negative press that inspired me and a group of friends to go to the theater the day after homecoming to see how bad this movie could be. However, before I went, I called my dad and explained how much this movie has been in the news, how much drama there was, and how much I was going to rip it apart when I saw it because of how poorly people like Florence Pugh were seemingly treated on set. He then stopped me in my tracks and told me to watch Olivia Wilde’s interview with Stephen Colbert where she addresses all of these claims. I was confused. He then told me that it will give me a new perspective on how I view this movie which I desperately needed. After watching the interview, I found that my dad was correct. Colbert and Wilde’s banter really gave me insight into how this industry works as a whole. Mainly, that drama like this happens all the time on set and, for some reason, this movie, directed by a female, was rushed with all this negative press around it. Of course, Colbert asked her questions about the production and the drama, to which Wilde denied everything. But then Colbert said something that completely changed how I viewed this film. He said something along the lines of, even if all the drama surrounding this movie was true, it would not even compare to things that revered male directors have done. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock and his abusive behavior that is never really talked about now. Furthermore, all the interviews that Olivia Wilde has done have involved the drama, not about the movie she has been crafting for three whole years. That interview was exactly what I needed to get into a proper mindset for this film. I ended up going in with an open mind, hopefully being able to see beyond all this press and enjoy the movie that these artists have crafted for so long.

Ironically, I didn’t like this movie at all! 

In what is described as a 50’s-like town, Jack and Alice Chambers are living a very intentionally stereotypical life. Jack goes to work and Alice stays home to clean the house, keeping to basic gender stereotypes. No one in the town really questions what is happening to them and, in fact, enjoys the society that they are a part of. That is until Alice begins to wonder what is happening after a few events that I won’t spoil occur. On paper, I feel like I should like this! Its concept seemed so similar to The Truman Show, my favorite film of all time. But something was holding me back from getting into it. Was it the scenery? No. Was it the cinematography or editing? I don’t think so? Was it the acting? Probably! But the real downfall to this movie is: if you aren’t into the story by the first ten minutes, you won’t be for the rest of the runtime. There is an appeal here, I can see that and a part of me wanted to like it so bad! But alas, it failed and it failed pretty badly. As mentioned earlier, the biggest complaint I have about the film has to be the acting, excluding Florence Pugh. Pugh never ceases to bring amazing performances in whatever project she’s a part of. She is a very well respected actress and her performance in this movie, despite its weird writing and lackluster co-star/love-interest, is one that kept me, at the very least, paying attention. The problem lies in Harry Styles who gives a more or less insulting performance as Florence Pugh’s husband, Jack. “Insulting” is a very strong word to use, I am aware. But consider all of the actors that could have pulled off this role way better than Harry Styles ever could (e.g. Timotheé Chalamet, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Miles Teller, and many more). I was so excited to see how Styles could pull off a role like this, especially being solely in the music industry. What kind of nuance we could see from him excited me because of how the trailers displayed him. But I guess he was unable to pull through. The other performances were either forgettable or noticeably bad. Chris Pine in this movie feels incredibly misplaced and never felt “in-character.” I always saw just Chris Pine on screen, not who he was playing. Olivia Wilde is a good performer but, whether it be because she was focused on directing or not, she didn’t come through this time. Everyone else was forgettable. The story falls victim to a great degree of pretension and trying to seem smart. It was unfortunate because I could tell this movie was trying to say something about gender roles and the power dynamic between men and women. Yet, due to the story’s choppy and very disconnected feeling, the message felt lost in the messiness of this film. Because I was so disconnected from the story, I began picking apart the moments that work. Especially the relationship between Alice and Jack Chambers. There was never a moment in this movie where I felt like these two were genuinely in love with each other (except from Florence Pugh’s line delivery). This is an issue because their relationship is so vital to the story that when moments would occur that challenge who they are, together or not, I couldn’t care less. Some of the directorial choices were very confusing and only added more to the pretentiousness of the project. I understood that these very strange and, in some cases, ridiculous choices were going to be explained by the end of the film. And they were… in a very unsatisfying way. The ending, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting parts of the film! It was an interesting way to wrap up the film, but it didn’t leave me feeling satisfied with what I had just watched. In conclusion, the weird and creepy imagery felt like it was added to seem smart and asks the audience for “their interpretation” when the production team doesn’t have an answer themselves.

However, despite all the negativity I feel about the film, I still feel like recommending the film for anyone who wants to watch it. I have seen several people watch this film and enjoy it! There is clearly a film here to enjoy. It’s just not for me. I have a feeling that, as the years move forward past the drama, Don’t Worry Darling will gain some sort of a cult-classic status. Olivia Wilde is still a highly regarded actress and director (with her film Booksmart), so I will still be watching every future movie that she creates. But as her second project, Don’t Worry Darling was a very disappointing film that tries to have something to say, but at the same time, says absolutely nothing at all.