Oliva Wilde’s directorial debut, “Booksmart” (2019), is one of the strongest and most promising debuts in recent memory. This is why her sophomore directorial film, “Don’t Worry Darling” (2022), was one of my most anticipated films of the year. With the addition of THE Florence Pugh, this film immediately climbed on my must-watch list. To address the elephant in the room, any outside controversy stirring up the release of the film had zero influence on my interpretation and reception of the film. With that said, let’s get into whether you should worry or not about this movie.
“Don’t Worry Darling” (2022) stars Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Nick Kroll. It follows Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles), a married couple living in an experimental community in the 1950s. Alice suddenly begins to experience a series of events that make her question her perfect life.
I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, and I’m pleased to report that I was delightfully surprised. The aesthetic, costumes and production design are stellar. I’ve been drawn to this era due to its overall look. Olivia Wilde captures it meticulously and I was blown away by the costumes. The sound design was also expertly done aiding in Alice’s suspense and overall disorientation. The score is a little hit or miss for me, but when it does work, it elevates many of the scenes.
The thematics explored were well navigated. As a woman, I connected with the core message of the film and I understood the need to showcase it. It helps that it’s directed and led by a woman because they bring a lens that’s not often represented in a story like this one. The experimental community is one of control and who benefits from this living arrangement. Additionally, the layers of complexity are interesting to navigate because this isn’t as simple as initially presented. My only criticism of the movie is the reveal in the third act. It isn’t as impactful or deserving of the great build-up. It could’ve been polished a bit more.
Pugh is one of my favorite actresses currently working in the industry. Learning she’s in a project instantly spikes my enthusiasm and before I know it, I’m purchasing a ticket to watch her in the film. Her performance is easily the best part. She effortlessly transitions from a wife living her best life to questioning her surroundings and her mental state. Styles surprisingly holds his own opposite of the giant that is Pugh. Wilde’s character is magnetic and she unquestionably fits right into this era. Her reveal in the third act is one of intrigue and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since viewing the movie.
Overall, “Don’t Worry Darling” (2022) tells an intricate and visually captivating story about marriage dynamics from a perspective not often considered. It stumbles a bit in the finale but it’s still worth seeking it out.