Arts & Entertainment

“Don’t Worry Darling” deserves a chance

Despite the controversy surrounding the production, “Don’t Worry Darling” isn’t as bad as you might think

“Don’t Worry Darling” follows Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), a blissfully married couple in a seemingly perfect 1950s-era town called Victory. Victory is an experimental place with a mysterious leader named Frank (Chris Pine), who is working on a top secret project. However, Alice soon begins to notice strange and sinister occurrences. As exciting as these moments were on-screen, those off-screen were involved in drama of their own. 

Director Olivia Wilde has received a lot of backlash for lying about firing Shia LaBeouf because he made leading lady Florence Pugh uncomfortable. The truth came out when LaBeouf released proof that he quit, and Wilde had attempted to make him stay, despite Pugh’s feelings. It seems that Pugh did not want much to do with the press surrounding the film. She avoided press conferences and only attended the premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. There were claims that Pugh was frustrated with Wilde and Harry Styles’ relationship as it seemed to hinder filming, causing Pugh to have to step in and direct a lot of the film. It’s unclear how much is gossip and how much is true, but it seems that Pugh was underappreciated during filming, which feels ironic when paired with a film that boasted a strong female lead. Whether or not Wilde deserves the hate for her choices regarding the production and the drama with Pugh, the bad reviews seem unfair. It appears some critics are allowing this to influence their opinions on the quality of the film.

Aside from the controversies, the choice to cast Harry Styles became a much discussed subject. Styles, a well-known pop star, was not the obvious option for a co-lead in a serious thriller/horror film, having only acted twice before in smaller roles. 

Styles gives it his all, but opposite seasoned actors, it still comes off as unnatural. It’s not easy for viewers to take him seriously— not that he’s a bad actor per se, but rather that his pop star image is so ingrained that it seems quite obvious he’s acting no matter what he does. 

Florence Pugh is good in any movie she does, and this is no different. While the film itself may come up short for some, her acting certainly does not. Pugh is a likable and compelling protagonist and her captivating performance is strong enough to make audiences forget about the controversy and lose themselves in the movie. Chris Pine charms as a suave and uncanny antagonist while the supporting cast fill out their roles convincingly enough. 

The costumes, sets and visuals are the best part of the film. The landscapes were striking and supported the plot well. However, the aesthetic is nothing new or original; the 1950s look paired with the psychological horror genre has been overdone already, and this film doesn’t do quite enough to set itself apart. 

The score was primarily made up of chilling vocalizations which made it unique, but it felt heavy-handed at times. Often, it felt as though the audience was being instructed how to react. The cheery perfect visuals paired with the unsettling score succeeded in creating a very unnerving experience to make up for it.

The film is definitely focused on making a statement about autonomy, consent and gaslighting from a woman’s perspective, but it doesn’t dive as deep as it could have. Additionally, it would have benefitted by adding more shock value; some scenes fall flat as the film is meant to incorporate the horror genre. 

The mystery that drives the plot is compelling throughout the first quarter of the film, with a strange plane crash and disturbing behaviors from Frank, but unfortunately it drags somewhat in the middle. The ending somewhat pulls itself together but ends up feeling shallow. While the ending felt satisfying, once it sits with you for a while you start to ask more questions. For Wilde’s first attempt at a thriller after her success with the comedy “Booksmart,” it’s a solid film. Those who enjoy the psychological thriller genre should like this as well. It is not a must-see, but if you are a fan of psychological and mysterious films or greatly enjoy Florence Pugh’s work, it is worth seeing in the theater. 

3 / 5 Stars