Review: Don’t Worry Darling a visually stunning mixed bag

Olivia Wilde's latest feature had a turbulent pre-release, but did the ironically anxiety inducing thriller survive unscathed?

Marina Snyder
18th October 2022
Twitter: @hsfilmography
When walking into the cinema to watch Don’t Worry Darling, I didn’t really know what to expect. After seeing the film, I can say in all honesty, I still don’t know what to expect or even really how to feel. 

Most people will likely have seen the controversy around this film, with there being many debates online on what to make of it. Even just looking at reviews, half of the people have rated the film a 1 out of 5, warning everyone and anyone against even seeing it, on the other hand some declare it to be engaging and deep, rating it a 5/5. So, what is Don’t Worry Darling? Is it a cinematographic masterpiece with a twist? Or does it lack substance and perhaps good acting skills? Hopefully, I can try to break it down for you. 

With all the negativity that surrounds the film, particularly on social media, I thought we would start on a positive note by looking at some of the strengths. For one thing, it’s a beautiful film, particularly visually. The cinematography was amazing, and in all honesty, I would watch Don’t Worry Darling with no sound on, simply for the graphics. It was vibrant and lively, and the framing work was *Chef’s kiss*. On top of the beautiful imagery was also a well-crafted soundtrack which felt well thought out and appropriate in every sense of the word; I enjoyed how it magnified feelings of unease and eeriness, in contrast to the bright idyllic images being shown. Sound was a powerful tool for this film that had a lot of potential and I think Wilde utilized it wonderfully. 

I of course can’t go on about the strengths without leaving a tribute to Pugh’s performance. As to be expected, Florence thrived on the big screen, bringing it to life with her range and subtlety, and I am certain the film would have been catastrophic (even more so) if not for her contribution. Expressive, emotive, and engaging to watch, I think she nailed the role, and it was fun to see how she handled her character’s growth. Bravo.

Of course, Don’t Worry Darling was not all positive, and I think it’s far from gaining any awards anytime soon. For one thing, the plot seemed a bit reused and lacked substance. In fact, the entire time I was watching, I was reminded of a similar film from the early 2000s, The Stepford Wives. For those of you who don’t know, Stepford Wives is based around a perfect seeming suburban 50’s themed town, however its later revealed that the men are attempting to control their wives (Sound familiar??). So it seems that the Stepford Wives is essentially the blueprint to Don’t worry Darling, which would be fine, if only it was done right. Instead, the plot felt unoriginal yet also underwhelming, the entire time you’re trying to figure out what's going on, and you’re left feeling empty and disappointed with the rushed ending.  

Speaking of disappointments, there was a lot to be left desired with Harry Styles' acting; they definitely chose Style over substance in the casting of Jack’s character. His performance lacked depth and was overall quite basic and I don’t know whether it was having to compete with Florence (which would never work) or whether he’s just not made for acting, but one thing is sure: if there is one direction for Harry to take, it's music and not film. 

They chose Style over substance in the casting of Jack's character

Overall, I don't think that Don’t worry darling was the best film in the world, however, at the same time, based on all the criticisms from the internet, I did think it would be much much worse. One could say it suffered from its own success; the pressure placed on the film through publicity, stardom, and overall hype, makes it seem disappointing, but that was inevitable. Perhaps if it was shown as a small indie film, with unrecognizable actors, it may have done a lot better. It’s the type of movie that makes you feel uneasy and uncomfortable purposefully, and if you enjoy that, relish in analysing metaphors, enjoy feeling perplexed and trying to work out what the hell is going on, then I do think this film can be enjoyed. As a mainstream Hollywood film though, it may just not be everyone’s cup of tea.

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