By Megan Bianco
Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, her second film as a director, is the latest, most uneventful movie to have juicy on-set gossip, following constant reports and rumors of the cast and crew. But what is this movie even about?
In a sunny, retro, private community called Victory in Southern California, full-time housewife Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) and husband/businessman Jack (Harry Styles) are an idyllic, carefree, happy couple with no real worries or problems.
The neighbors in the cul-de-sac in which they reside are their closest friends and are just as at peace as Alice and Jack. When one of the wives in Victory, Margaret (Kiki Layne), begins behaving strangely at the same time Alice starts having odd visions and dreams, the former gradually becomes suspicious of Victory founder Frank (Chris Pine).
After so much built-up hype by Wilde and Warner Bros. about how impressive Styles’ acting debut is in Don’t Worry Darling, and then an immediate downturn from critics claiming he’s not only miscast, but straight-up bad, I can say he’s closer to somewhere in the middle.
He does feel out of his league during the more intense scenes near the end, especially opposite Pugh, but he’s basically fine in the party and flirty sequences. The rest of the cast are solid, and the aesthetics are pleasing—including Wilde’s direction.
Don’t Worry Darling, for the most part, is a run-of-the-mill psycho thriller with a pretty hokey final act. Like a lot of psychological suspense films, the twists by the end either turn out “mind-blowing” or a letdown. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s the latter.
The final product doesn’t bring anything new to the familiar formula we’ve already seen in Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives (1975), Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), either.
If it weren’t for Styles’ casting and the implosion of behind-the-scenes stories in the past year, Don’t Worry Darling probably would have just been casually placed in theaters and on streaming with hardly any notice.