“Don’t Worry Darling”: What Happens in Venice…


Source: Warner Bros Pictures

Will Teare

Director: Olivia Wilde

Starring: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Kiki Layne, and Olivia Wilde 

Release Date: September 22, 2022

Rating: 2/5 


“Ah…Venice.” -Indiana Jones 

I couldn’t say it better myself, Dr. Jones. After an unbelievably entertaining press tour through  Northern Italy which captivated people worldwide, we finally got “Don’t Worry Darlingin stateside cinemas. Sometimes, when a film’s drama is as publicized as this, the movie provides a fascinating window into what really went down, or maybe the film poetically mirrors the drama. Perhaps it even reinvigorates the conversation with some more context. But here, we just get a terrible movie, plain and simple. For criticism’s sake, let’s dive deeper into why your next moviegoing experience shouldn’t be “Don’t Worry Darling,” even if you need a terrible movie to laugh at.

In our story, we follow Alice (Florence Pugh) through a Palm Springs-looking 50’s suburban “utopia” called “Victory”. Under the rule of the mysterious Frank (Chris Pine), the men have to go to work all day, and women are expected to dotingly cook, clean, stay at home, and not question anything. When Alice discovers her friend Margaret (Kiki Layne) being “hysterical,” Alice begins to question the nature of this society too. As Alice’s husband, Jack (Harry Styles), tries to stop Alice from questioning the rules, Alice gets closer to the mystery of Victory. 

Olivia Wilde returns to the director’s chair for the first time after an incredible debut with “Booksmart back in 2019. From what we know on set, she was kind and a true actor’s director. She let these actors take control of their characters with entire pieces of dialogue and whole arcs, which had an infectious on-set fun with the cast that you feel as a member of the audience.

Whatever she was on there is entirely lost on everyone now. This movie is not directionless but feels lacking in any kind of objective. Every actor seems utterly baffled at what kind of movie they’re in(except Pugh and Pine, bless their hearts). Frankly, so was I! 

This movie has been half-jokingly referred to as a “white woman’s Get Out.Although funny, it’s horribly untrue. Where Get Out boldly and eloquently faces the subtext of its themes head-on, “Don’t Worry Darlingtimidly fails to address anything we recognize as modern feminist issues. The film is caught up in themes of Second-Wave Feminism which would be a wild and bold thing if this was the 60s. However, it’s 2022 and we’re far past the issues of whether women deserve to be part of the workforce. Sure, more modern issues are presented in the latter half, but only briefly and unrecognizably for anyone to care. One could argue that this film is a cautionary tale of what we have to lose and how women could return to a pre-Second-Wave world, but the film isn’t even close to recognizing anything like that.

Now let me be clear, Florence Pugh is as vivacious and talented as she always has been. If there’s one young actor today that commands your eye better than anyone else it certainly is Pugh. But where Pugh ends, the problems begin, as this film dies with a remarkably ineloquent first draft of what you could call a script. 

It was excruciatingly clear that most of the cast had little to absolutely no idea what kind of movie they were in. An unfortunate casualty of this is Harry Styles, who, although his pop star to actor turn isn’t as bad as everyone would have you believe, it falls quite flat. When he tries to evoke some sort of strong emotion, most of my theater audience couldn’t help but laugh that an insanely famous man right now is making an attempt at being a different person. My hot take for today is that he’s actually not bad, just miscast. Without spoiling, there’s quite a few choices he makes during dramatic scenes that rely on acting chops that simply aren’t there. But, since line to line, he isn’t bad, I really do think he could flourish in a different kind of role more suited to the level he’s at/persona he has. But under some poor support from Olivia Wilde, he seems largely misguided as to what he needs to be doing. 

I’d be remiss to not mention that this is in fact a mainline Warner Bros. release with a $35 million dollar budget and it certainly looks the part in that department. But despite Pugh elevating the material she was given, Pine having some fun, and some really great production on the crew side, the movie kept losing me. Under an incredibly weak execution in the script and very much so in the director’s chair, “Don’t Worry Darlingdisappointed me.