Don’t Worry Darling Review
Don’t Worry Darling (2022) Film Review, a movie directed by Olivia Wilde, written by Katie Silberman, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke and starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Nick Kroll, Timothy Simons, Douglas Smith, Dita Von Teese, KiKi Layne, Kaleigh Krause, Natasha Kalimada, Asif Ali, Monroe Cline, Wylie Anderson and Roberta Sparta.
Olivia Wilde directed the very enjoyable raunchy comedy, Booksmart, a few years back. That was a good film but nothing in that movie could prepare us for the latest powerhouse film made by Wilde, Don’t Worry Darling. This new picture is dark, provocative and fascinating from the first frame all the way to the last. Florence Pugh stars in the film as Alice Chambers, a 1950’s housewife in an experimental community that somewhat resembles the setting of the classic 1998 film, The Truman Show or even another movie from that same year, Pleasantville. It’s a perfect place where people have assembled to live a simpler life and, arguably, a better one too. Men work at the same company and the women are housewives, some of whom have kids. It’s a clean life but is it too good to be true?
KiKi Layne plays a neighbor named Margaret who Alice witnesses slitting her throat before falling off her beautiful house. However, the story gets twisted around and, apparently, Alice didn’t see that. Not that exact scenario anyway. This death leads to the thriller element of the movie which is the key ingredient of the story. However, let’s back up a little bit.
Alice is married to the successful Jack (Harry Styles) and Jack’s boss, Frank (Chris Pine) is the creator of the community in which they live. This movie treats the audience to several scenes of Alice preparing her morning eggs, toast and bacon which is the film’s way of presenting its theme of familiarity versus the unexpected. It seems this breakfast which Alice eats is a regular occurrence, but something is off about the community Alice lives in, at least to her anyway. When Margaret is seeing doing what she does, it opens up a can of worms for Alice that she is too brave to close although she may wish she shut that can very quickly as the events of the movie progress.
There are a number of explicit sexual scenes. One has Jack performing oral sex on Alice while another has Jack and Alice having sex when the unusually cold Frank witnesses it is happening right in his home. For some odd reason, Alice doesn’t tell Jack that Frank is watching, further complicating her already complex emotions regarding the lifestyle she is leading on a day-to-day basis.
Olivia Wilde, herself, serves as Bunny who is Alice’s slightly older neighbor who hangs out with Alice regularly. They are best buddies. On the other hand, Bunny likes her way of life whereas Alice grows tired of the mundane lifestyle she is living. Well, sort of. There is a plane crash that happens close by as well which leads Alice to suspect more is going on than what is apparent on the surface in her community. Alice digs deep for answers and becomes a victim of her own curiosity. For example, she tries to open Dr. Collins (Timothy Simons)’s briefcase when he comes to her home to analyze her for her intense emotional outbursts.
There is the fact that Harry Styles will draw people to this movie to see his performance here. However, that’s the movie’s main problem. Styles’ casting as Jack leaves a bit to be desired. While the actor is incredibly good in one scene in the picture where he changes his mind about running away with Alice, most of Styles’s acting is incredibly basic and leaves some development to be desired in the emotions department. He either seems to be overacting or underacting at given times throughout the film but, luckily, Pugh is so good, she saves Styles from falling flat.
The real scene stealer here is Gemma Chan as Shelley who, in a secret scene that cannot be revealed here, makes a decision regarding the character of Frank. Chan is very strong playing a woman who has put her faith in Frank and begins to learn the flaws of his chosen method of life.
There are a number of plot twists in Don’t Worry Darling and they all play like gangbusters. A lot of the preliminary visionary stuff Alice goes through mentally (which include images of the one and only Dita Von Teese) is expertly photographed making the film automatically an attention grabber. Early on, the women take something resembling a shuttle bus to get around town but when Pugh’s character gets behind the wheel of a car at the end as a chase ensues, the whole audience will be cheering for Alice.
Pugh is a one-of-a-kind actress, and she makes this part one of the most fascinating ones she’s ever done. Her character is smart, but she makes choices that jeopardize her life all in trying to discover why her life is unfolding the way that it is. There are scenes of Pugh in a different time in her life working 30-hour shifts and becoming exhausted which makes an excellent juxtaposition to the Alice who stays at home and cleans while Jack goes out to conquer the world.
Don’t Worry Darling is the type of movie you just go with if you want to enjoy it. Let it take you on the ride it presents. This film builds tension slowly but steadily as the events eventually become so over-the-top that there is no way out for some key characters as the events send the characters on a downward spiral in which there is no turning back.
Florence Pugh is excellent because she keeps the character that she is playing grounded in reality and thus makes Alice deeply plausible and relatable. Another actress could have faltered here given the complexities of the plot. Pine and Wilde, in smaller roles, more than hold their own beside the always fabulous Pugh.
If you choose to see Don’t Worry Darling, you’ll get to see one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. Picture Vanilla Sky meets The Truman Show. Those movies have stood the test of time and this new film will too, This new picture also features a soundtrack of old songs that fit the film to a tee. Life may be a dream for some of the characters in the movie, but this film is all about Alice’s nightmare come to life. You’ll be rooting for her all the way through. Don’t miss it.
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