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Film Review: Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Chances are, if you’ve seen your fair share of movies, you’ve probably already seen Don’t Worry Darling. The sophomore directing effort from Olivia Wilde (who also has a supporting role) is slightly different in its content from her debut – the fantastic coming-of-age comedy Booksmart – as it leans in the direction of reality-shattering sci-fi. Regardless of any virtues, the plot itself is very inspired by (and perhaps even blatantly derivative of) The Truman Show, in particular. Even if you haven’t seen any of the direct inspirations for it, Don’t Worry Darling doesn’t exactly play its cards close to its chest in terms of twists and turns. Right from the get-go – heck, even just from the trailers – it’s very obvious that Alice and Jack Chambers (Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, respectively) are most certainly not living in a 50’s suburbia. In short, this film isn’t breaking new ground, and could very well be dismissed as unnecessary or unwanted.

While that seems to be a major setback for a large portion of audiences, I would argue that Don’t Worry Darling‘s cinematic thrill isn’t built on the back of having a huge twist, but instead on the anticipation of that twist and the specifics with which the twist is ultimately executed. Wilde’s flair as a director is on full display, and it’s enough to make even a rehash of familiar narrative and thematic material interesting and exciting. From the quick close-ups of breakfast being prepared (think Requiem for a Dream); to the unsettling coordination of ballet dancers (think Suspiria); to the nightmarish ocular imagery (think an eye, but scary)… Wilde has certainly done her homework in making this a unique experience directorially, at the least. Accompanying some of the utilized horror techniques is an unnerving score from composer John Powell, headlined by its use of breathy overlapping vocals. 

In a few years when Florence Pugh has rightfully snagged an Oscar or two, her performance here is going to be the kind on which people reminisce and wonder, “How did it take her so long to get one?” At this point in her career, it almost feels redundant to say she delivered some great acting because, quite frankly, she always does. Her character here is quite similar to the one she played in Midsommar, but hey… who wouldn’t want two extra hours of that? Although Pugh is clearly the show-stealer, Chris Pine was pleasantly surprising, in the sense that his character was purely unpleasant. Arguably the main antagonist of the film, Pine finds the sweet spot in between Jack Nicholson and James Spader; his character, Frank, is all the more chilling due to his meticulous and controlling line delivery and general demeanor. 

Harry Styles is… fine. He was better than expected, but when you star alongside the acting powerhouse that is Florence Pugh, you can only fake-it-’til-you-make-it for so long. But I have to disagree with the sentiments of his giggly fangirls sitting a couple rows behind me, one of whom very audibly claimed, “He’s perfect,” heading into the third act. He’s passable… at best. Really, that’s how the bulk feels: most of Don’t Worry Darling is passable despite its emulative nature, and memorable for its bold direction and headlining performance.

Overall rating: 7/10

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Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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