Don’t Worry Darling
In a gated community in the desert, men work for the highly classified “Victory Project”, while their wives stay home and tend to the household. One of the younger residing couples, Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), appear in a state of perpetual honeymoon, unable to keep their hands off each other, whether it be at the dinner table or at a party hosted by the project’s alluring leader Frank (Chris Pine). When one of the neighbouring women suddenly starts acting out and defying the existing rules, Alice, too starts to question her surroundings.
Without the collateral gossip about on-set feuds and pay disparity, Don’t Worry Darling would have likely sunk without a trace. Neither particularly sensual nor thrilling, the feature not only fails to deliver as the “erotic thriller” it is marketed as, but is altogether unable to leave a lasting impact of any kind.
A tremendous amount of work was put into the production design to create an opulent world of retro glamour that to this day is seen through nostalgia-tinted glasses, but surprisingly little effort went into deconstructing the elusive nature thereof. Apart from the single discomforting image of Alice breaking eggs only to find them empty shells, there is no perceptible eeriness, no sense of dread to comprehensibly push our heroine’s journey forward. Black-and-white ballet scenes accompanying Frank’s monologues about control are too contracted to have the desired “Leni Riefenstahl” effect the talent described in the film’s press conference.
None of the characters amount to anything more than stick figures, a hollowness that not even the M Night Shyamalan twist towards the third act can vindicate.
For all that he is credited as Pugh’s co-star, Styles is only conspicuous by absence. It would not come as a surprise to learn that the editors cut around his performance rather than in service to the story. Pugh herself is going through the motions, desperately trying to make up for the sentiment the script is lacking but it only feels like a reproduction of her work in Midsommar.
After her successful directorial debut with the coming-of-age comedy Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s second feature, unfortunately, renders itself as much ado about nothing.
Don’t Worry Darling is released nationwide on 23rd September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Worry Darling here: