The drama and controversy surrounding Don’t Worry Darling’s cast and director probably didn’t do this movie any favors. Rumors swirled around a train wreck of a shoot with shouting arguments on set, favoritism, and rifts between cast members. TikTok users fueled the off-the-rails press tour with scandalous commentary about who spit on who, and who won’t look someone in the eye. I mean, with all of this – of course we want to see this movie. However, so much hype can lead to disappointment at best.
So what’s Don’t Worry Darling even about? Well, it’s a familiar story you’ve probably seen bits of before. It takes place in an idyllic mid-century modern town called Victory where all the husbands uniformly drive off to work at the secretive Project Victory, (to change the world), leaving the desperate housewives home to cook and clean, shop, take ballet lessons, and gossip with the other ladies.
Visually, Victory is quite beautiful if you’re into that Edward Scissorhands kind of vibe, as I am. Also nice to look at are Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack Chambers (Harry Styles). The story focuses on their mostly satisfying life, yes she does the cooking, yes she does the cleaning…like every day. And she is there waiting, cocktail in hand, when he arrives home. Sometimes dinner can wait – or can just be shoved off the table for a gratuitous – yet very hot – lovemaking scene.
We get our first glimpse of Chris Pine as the charismatic leader of Project Victory at a cocktail party at his house. He’s gloriously menacing, awkwardly in control. It’s obvious to us something is off, but when one of the housewives questions him publicly, Alice takes notice. The more curious she gets, the more she spirals downward. She starts to hallucinate with a hot mess of haunting images that disrupt her routine alongside a tune she just can’t get out of her head.
Olivia Wilde plays Alice’s neighbor, Bunny and she also directed the film. Her character is mostly subtle until the predictable turning point near the end. I struggled with the random and disjointed imagery as the plot unraveled. You could call it a twist – but not in the sense of – Oh wow, I didn’t know that was happening! It’s more like – Wait, what? Why? Some scenes feel pushed together in post to over explain some anti-misogyny message which I already kind of had in the beginning. You know, because the title is Don’t Worry Darling. I get it. Also, I saw WandaVision and Stepford Wives.
Harry Styles? I was pleasantly surprised! Certainly did not feel like his first acting gig even with the oddly long dance scene. Gemma Chan (Shelley) is a force. A pregnant Kate Berlant (Peg) made me laugh especially with all of the cocktails and cigarettes. Florence Pugh though – she is bigger than this movie. Maybe that’s why everything got so heated. I can still hear her breath in my ear.