Don’t Worry Darling defies critics’ denouncement

By Patrick Gainor, Staff Writer

Don’t Worry Darling needs little introduction. The production of Olivia Wilde’s sophomore film has been so chaotic that the drama has made national headlines, from Shia LeBeouf not being in the movie to screaming matches between Wilde and lead actress Florence “Miss Flo” Pugh. 

I went into this movie with rather low expectations but left the theater exhilarated and dazed. Don’t Worry Darling is absolutely insane, and while it is far from perfect, it is certainly one of the most memorable films of the year.

The movie follows Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack Chambers (Harry Styles), who live in the idyllic 1950s-style town of Victory. Jack works for what is known as the Victory Project, led by CEO Frank (Chris Pine), and leaves town every day while Alice remains at home with the other wives of Victory. 

However, after Alice begins to notice cracks in her perfect life, she begins to question why she’s here and what the Victory Project really is. As she battles this dystopian society, she must decide how much she is willing to lose to find the truth.

The plot for this movie is relatively cliché, and you can probably predict the way the movie will end with a relative degree of success. But that doesn’t deter Wilde from taking a lot of risks. There are elements and imagery strewn throughout that gave me goosebumps. The score was also fascinating, being mainly composed of women chanting, which gave the film a higher sense of unease.

Pugh is the heart and soul of the movie. This movie would not work without her, as she gives one of the best performances of her career. Even when the movie takes an undesirable turn or falls flat at times, “Miss Flo” is consistently bringing her A-game. 

She makes Alice very easy to cheer for as a protagonist and is worth the price of admission alone if you have any doubts about going out to see this one. This is easily her best performance since her breakout role in 2019’s Midsommar.

While this movie has some great elements, there are a couple of brutal flaws that hold it back from excellence.

Firstly, the editing  can be a bit nauseating and difficult to follow. Wilde frequently includes very brief flashbacks or visions interspersed in scenes and doubles them as jump cuts, which, on occasion, took me out of the flow.

Secondly, Styles’ performance was, while not terrible, noticeably inferior to his fellow actors. He’s not an awful actor, but he consistently struggles to carry the proper weight and feeling in his deliveries and expressions compared to Pugh and Pine.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, several elements of the movie are not explained at all by the end. The movie gives us enough of an explanation as to what is going on so that we can at least leave the theater with suitable satisfaction, but several moments of the movie, specifically moments used to build up suspense, are either outright abandoned or left too ambiguous for the audience to put the pieces together on their own.

Despite all of its flaws and the endless pile of drama, Don’t Worry Darling manages to be a solid film that offers enough to keep viewers invested throughout. While the plot has been done to death and the payoff may not be enough to satisfy some, this movie is far from the disaster so many thought it would be — and that alone is admirable.