FILM: Don’t Worry Darling (2022, Olivia Wilde)

Following its premiere at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling is distributed by Warner Bros. In an idyllic 1950s’ California company town Victory, Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) live a seemingly perfect life, the one catch being that they do not leave the town due to the dangers of the outside world. However, a series of events lead to Alice suspecting that all is not what it seems. As she starts to do some digging and realise that there is something sinister afoot, she also comes to realise that the community leader Frank (Chris Pine) and Dr. Collins (Timothy Simons) will do absolutely anything to ensure a) that not even Jack believes her, and b) stop her from getting word out beyond the borders of Victory.

PROS

  • A clever, tense and captivating screenplay by Katie Silberman that is paced very well, and complimented by the nuanced hand and clear vision of director Olivia Wilde. They really do trust the audience to pick up on small clues and indications regarding the true nature of things. Plus, although we expect a twist, the one that we get is not the twist we assume that we will receive.
  • The ending has proved polarising and understandably so, but it worked for me (and my super-analytical brain) for similar reasons to why the ending of Invasion of the Body Snatchers worked.
  • An altogether strong cast, with Chris Pine’s passionate yet also unsettling performance making him the stand-out of the supporting players, whilst Kiki Layne is chilling in her relatively brief screen time. However, this is Florence Pugh’s show all the way, as she gives an intense, multi-layered performance that is replete with raw emotion and utterly captivating to watch.
  • A beautifully framed film, with cinematographer Matthew Libatique’s shot composition having a wonderful, painterly quality that captures the brightness, beauty and rich colour palette of the idyllic location, and he also crafts some rather unnerving imagery as Alice faces seeming struggles with her mental wellbeing.
  • Exquisite work by the production and costume design departments give this film a very good sense of period authenticity, whilst the make-up department craft solid practical effects and make effective use of fake blood.

CONS

  • The twist renders the first real indication that something is not quite right far more illogical and ultimately a plot-hole.
  • An inconsistent performance from Harry Styles – it starts off very over-exaggerated, but improves as Jack becomes more intense.

VERDICT: 9/10

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