REVIEW: Don’t Worry Darling: Styles Over Substance
Don’t Worry Darling (2022) is surprisingly not Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, but from the chaos, drama, and poor performances – both on and off screen – this predictable (and frankly gross) attempt at the psychological thriller genre will live in infamy as truly something.
The film stars Florence Pugh (Alice) and Harry Styles (Jack), playing a typical 1950s husband and wife in a less than normal setting. Wilde sets up directly from the get-go that something isn’t innately right (and no, it’s not Styles’ acting) with predictable twists and turns that would be on par with a GCSE Media film project.
Without giving the entire plot away, which is difficult since the trailer consists of the only good parts of the film jammed into two whole minutes, Don’t Worry Darling leaves viewers with more questions than answers. The film itself gives the pretence that, on her first day to set, Wilde seemingly must have dropped at least a third of the script, as there are enough plot-holes for it to be legally considered as Swiss cheese.
I understand that the thriller genre itself is intended to create confusion within its audience (trust me, my BA, A Level, and GCSE in media would know) but Wilde’s attempt for the generic flair falls flat and misplaced. I genuinely won’t deny that the film has a strong potential, à la The Matrix, but it drags on for far too long before it well and truly gets into its final descent which feels like it’s over in two minutes almost… akin to what I imagine sex with a cis-het white man is like.
The strongest point for the entire experience is simply just admiring Florence Pugh’s performance. I hope Pugh has seen a chiropractor since filming, as she carried the entire film, and I hope for her sake that there is no sequel lined up because I can’t imagine wanting to watch more of that.
As much as I have questions that I deeply want answered, I would literally rather read a 700 page manual for a car I don’t even own than rather experience this film again. However, I will admit, some of the cinematography in this film is beautiful, and worthy of recognition.
The biggest red flag from this entire film’s lore is that Styles’ character was originally meant to be played by Shia LaBeouf – which is truly questionable because I simply cannot picture Pugh and LaBeouf playing a happily married couple, living the American Dream in a 1950’s suburbia.
Wilde’s claim that Don’t Worry Darling is “The Feminine Mystique on acid” is wild – no pun intended. The decision to include an extensive amount of the deradicalisation of women, through medical malpractice and emotional abuse throughout the simulation is absurd but yet, in a major (and not at all surprising) plot twist: Alice stays in, in the end. It is certainly hard to believe that this film, and Wilde, advocates for any form of feminism – and certainly not The Feminine Mystique. Apparently, feminist themes are synonymous with a lack of free will, as shown during Alice’s abduction and abhorrent abuse.
Similarly, Wilde’s depiction of men in this monstrosity is distressing, frustrating, and infuriating – as, like Gemma Chan’s character, I too wanted to stab Chris Pine after two hours of his character’s insufferable and misogynistic parade.
My takeaway from this experience is simple – do worry, and don’t bother. Between the chaos behind the scenes, to the chaos on screen, Don’t Worry Darling is certainly a film that 2022 has to offer. Olivia Wilde shouldn’t be allowed to direct traffic – let alone a film – ever again. Maybe Christopher Nolan knew what he was doing when he gave Harry Styles only two lines in Dunkirk (2017).
Hi! I’m Iona and I have a lot to say, on many topics. I’m currently a ‘panic’ Master's student, focussing on Media, Culture, and Society (because let’s face it, I didn’t particularly want to graduate into this current economic climate with a media degree). I have a deep interest in photography, film, and television (as hopefully my current dissertation suggests), as well as an interest in politics, history, news, technology, arts, and literature – of which I hold a lot of opinions on, and will hopefully share here.
I’ve been studying media since I was 14 years old when I made a panic switch to Media in Year 9 when I realised that Drama really wasn’t my thing (my best performance was obviously my role of ‘Head Fly’ in Dick Whittington in Year 3 – of which I was demoted down to just regular ‘Fly’ for no apparent reason). Since then, I’ve gone on to do a lot of work within this field, both academic as well as voluntary, in order to build my CV, as well as my expertise. I’ve worked on all sorts of stuff, from assisting my old village’s political committee how to make a website (which was, unsurprisingly, excruciating) to working with young kids, helping them format their academic work and being a teaching assistant, and my personal favourite, photographing pensioners doing Ballroom dancing (bless them). But within all of these ventures I have undertaken over the last several years, I have never found an opportunity to share my opinion on random pop culture (as well as my love for Dana Scully) so this is my intention to do so here.
All this being said, I hope you enjoy what you read from me, and I look forward to sharing my views, and various streams of consciousness with you all.
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