‘Don’t Worry Darling’ review: Olivia Wilde scandals blunt thrills

In Olivia Wilde’s trouble-in-paradise thriller Don’t Worry Darling, Florence Pugh plays a devoted housewife named Alice, a name familiar enough to evoke some famous ancestors here. Watching her go about her daily routine—cooking every meal, cleaning the house from top to bottom, and occasionally venturing into town for a shopping spree—you might be reminded of Alice Kramden. That’s true, even if Pugh’s Alice seems to inhabit a lighter, cozier (if less fun) vision of 1950s domesticity than “The Honeymooners,” one awash in Midcentury Modern grandeur and at a picture-perfect cul-de-sac in sitting in the desert. Bag. It helps that Alice has a husband, Jack (Harry Styles), who’s kind of the anti-Ralph, and not just because he thinks nothing of sweeping the plates aside and offering his wife as an amuse-bouche treat.

After a while, however, you might be reminded of a very different Alice, who finds herself adrift in a strange, often spooky land where everything and everyone is a surreal imitation of life. And Pugh’s Alice, initially happily accepting of the status quo, soon begins to ask dangerous questions. Who exactly is Frank (a silky smooth Chris Pine), the combination of CEO, mayor and cult leader who has such a firm grip on Alice and Jack and the other couples who live in this sun-kissed utopia? What is the nature of the Victory Project, the top-secret government corporation that employs Jack and the other husbands on their block? The answers threaten to throw Alice through the proverbial looking glass, whether she’s seeing a nightmarish vision in the mirror or cleaning a large window that suddenly closes around her, marking her imprisonment with an all-too-literal bang.

And “Don’t Worry Darling,” for all its dark undercurrents and subversive feints, turns out to be a disappointingly heavy hit of a movie. Directed by Olivia Wilde and written by Katie Silberman (based on a story credited to Silberman, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke), it’s a nicely put together, increasingly transparent thriller that stomps and drags when it should be sneaking , if he should accelerate. Mainly it is reminiscent of the many earlier, better images that it is consciously modeled on; I hate to name too many of them and risk spoiling the story’s meager surprises. Suffice it to say that Wilde and Silberman have come up with what often sounds like a Palm Springs version of The Stepford Wives, or perhaps an old Douglas Sirk melodrama on The Truman Show.

Olivia Wilde, Nick Kroll and Chris Pine mingle outside of the film "don't worry darling"

Olivia Wilde, Nick Kroll and Chris Pine in the movie Don’t Worry Darling.

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

For a gaslighting thriller about suburban malaise and declining gender politics, this is not a promising build. For a while, you’ll be drawn in by the sheer madness of this isolated, master-planned community, and also by the brightly colored surfaces of Katie Byron’s Atomic Age production design. Day after day, Alice and her fellow wives exchange beaming smiles and perform their robot-synchronized rituals. Not that there aren’t differences between households: while Alice has no children (yet), her best friend Bunny (Wilde) has two small children, and another neighbor, Peg (Kate Berlant), becomes pregnant.

Also of note is that not all residents of this community are white, which is a sign that this isn’t your typical 1950’s Hollywood flashback. Exceptions include Frank’s wife, Shelley (a beautifully chilled Gemma Chan); Peg’s husband Pete (Asif Ali); and Margaret (KiKi Layne), a depressed insomniac whose violent unraveling provides an early indication that all is not well. On the other hand, “hint” might be too subtle a word. At a certain point — around the time Alice’s eyes fell on a secret folder labeled “SECURITY RISK” (because “PLOT TWIST INCOMING” would have been too obvious) — what appeared in “Don’t Worry Darling” as a creepy innuendo thought is ridiculously blunt.

Anyone rightly charmed by Wilde’s 2018 directorial debut Booksmart, with its furious pace and whip-smart comedy, might be surprised by the odd leadarity of this second break-in. She repeatedly draws on derivative, non-luminous beats, as when the horrors of daily toil are translated into close-ups of bacon and eggs sizzling through repeated smashing. The director also relies too heavily on a John Powell score, whose moody, percussive singsong tends to overwhelm rather than deepen Alice’s growing anxiety.

A blonde woman in an apron crushing eggshells in her hands in a kitchen

Florence Pugh in the movie Don’t Worry Darling.

(Merrick Morton/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Wilde’s most compelling visual soar is to reference Busby Berkeley’s kaleidoscopic dance spectacle, while Alice is repeatedly struck by black-and-white visions of 1930s-style showgirls dancing in circular formations. These dizzying, rapidly dissolving visions contribute to a growing sense of displacement in time; They also heat up the mood of a male-orchestrated world where women are there to perform and be looked at. And so, in a culmination of hallucinations, car crashes, menacing dinner parties, and inevitable accusations of hysteria, “Don’t Worry Darling” becomes a retro-toned #MeToo deliverance story in which a woman begins to realize the full extent of the nightmare she’s in and desperately runs to the exits.

It’s a fascinating story that gets less and less interesting by the minute. That’s partly because the film takes way too long to build, and partly because “Don’t Worry Darling” is more or less about itself in terms of gender politics, he-said-she-said mysteries and sheer narrative juice itself was eclipsed -released production history. If you follow celebrity gossip and movie business headlines, you’ve probably read a thing or two about this story, particularly the behind-the-scenes intricacies swirling around Wilde, her off-screen romance with Styles, and the fact that Jack was originally intended to be played by Shia LaBeouf.

You may also have heard whispers of a beef between Wilde and Pugh that was conspicuously reticent even as the film’s fall rollout — officially kicking off at this week’s Venice International Film Festival premiere, where Pugh was absent from a promotional press conference was – slipped into damage control mode. Does that make Pugh the living embodiment of her heroine, a much-abused woman quietly but resolutely eyeing the exits? (Her unsurprisingly empathetic performance on screen is a decent case.) Or might Alice actually be a more fitting stand-in for Wilde, a talented director trying to fight her way out of a misogynistic system that doesn’t blink twice at a male filmmaker similarly Position?

These are entertaining but also depressing questions, and this is a film review, not an ad campaign. If the backstory of “Don’t Worry Darling” has become the most horrifying Hollywood train wreck of the year, the film itself – to a certain relief but also a certain disappointment – is nothing of the sort. Wild failure here is mostly in the imagination. Your film is competently acted, well made and not half as disturbing as it wants to be. It’s nothing to worry about.

‘Don’t worry darling’

Valuation: R, for sexuality, violent content and language

Duration: 2 hours, 2 minutes

To play: Launches September 23 in general release

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-09-05/dont-worry-darling-review-olivia-wilde-florence-pugh-harry-styles ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ review: Olivia Wilde scandals blunt thrills

Sarah Ridley

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button