Stars: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Nick Kroll, Timothy Simons
Writer: Katie Silberman, story by Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke and Katie Silberman Director: Olivia Wilde
Distributor: Warner Bros./New Line
Release Date: September 23, 2022
DON’T WORRY DARLING is directed by Olivia Wilde and scripted by Katie Silberman from a story Silberman devised with Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke. As it progresses, what’s going on may remind viewers of several other specific films, one so much that it feels like it ought to be credited here in some way. That would give the game away, so we won’t say the title here (we’ll just mention it is in turn based on a novel, and has two big-screen versions).
In fact, it’s hard to describe much of the plot of DON’T WORRY DARLING without spoiling it. Here’s the set-up. It’s the ‘50s. We meet Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) and her husband Jack (Harry Styles). They love each other and have a very active sex life. They live in the idyllic, isolated bedroom community of Victory, on a cul-de-sac full of married couples (a bit more racially diverse than we might expect in this era). Every morning, the men drive out of the cul-de-sac in their beautiful, varied ‘50s automobiles, heading to their jobs at the mysterious Victory Corporation.
The women stay behind, cooking, cleaning, drinking, gossiping and shopping. We don’t know much about the Victory Corporation, except that the men aren’t allowed to talk about their work. Frank (Chris Pine) is the head of the corporation. He and his wife, Shelley (Mia Chan), bask in the adoration of the populace. Frank loves to make big, generalized speeches about how it takes courage to go after what you want, that Victory represents order in a sea of social chaos, and so forth. Everyone seems very happy, except for Margaret (KiKi Layne), who’s married to Peter (Asif Ali). Margaret insists that something is wrong. Alice doesn’t believe her. But then Alice sees a few things that make her start asking questions.
Wilde is a strong director, with an engaging visual sense. Pugh provides a center of gravity and never puts a foot wrong. Director and performer between them make DON’T WORRY DARLING highly watchable, even when the third act becomes a giant ball of exposition. Here’s where suspension of belief begins to fray. The filmmakers are selective about what they want to explain. On the one hand, we can understand why they don’t want to spend more time on something that bogs down the action. On the other hand, this is a case where if they’re going to go as far as they do with details, they’d be better off going the rest of the way.
Even those who are entirely on board with the messages of DON’T WORRY DARLING will have logistical issues. There are also some evident contradictions in supporting characters that go unaddressed, and the dialogue (especially towards the end) gets didactic. Styles does well enough as the worried Jack, and Pine perfectly embodies the self-satisfied Frank. Chan is credibly formidable as Shelley, and Kate Berlant has a great handle on the tone as a friendly neighbor.
DON’T WORRY DARLING is handsome and enjoyable in a ‘70s speculative fiction way. But by the time it’s over, viewers will be with Alice in feeling déjà vu.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Movie Review: DON’T WORRY DARLING