Don’t Worry Darling is a 2022 American psycholigical thriller film directed by Olivia Wilde. The film strars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Oliva Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Chris Pine. The movie follows a perfect housewife living in a company town who begins to sense that a sinister secret is kept from its residents by the man who runs it.
In America duran unspecified time period, Alice and Jack Chambers live in an a perfect 1950s-styled neighborhood in the company town of Victory, California. Every day, the men go to work at Voctory Headquarters out in the surrounding desert while their wives, stay home, to clean, relax, and cook dinner for their husbands. The women are discouraged from asking questions about their husbands’ work and told not to go out to the Headquarters. Margaret has become an outcast after taking her son out into the desert, resulting in her son’s apparent death, although she claims that Victory took him from her as punishment. While attending a party hosted by Frank, Victory’s mysterious founder and leader, Alice sees Margaret’s husband try to give her medication. Later, she sees Frank looking in on her and Jack while they are having sex in Frank’s bedroom.
One morning, while riding the trolley across town, Alice witnesses a plane crash out in the desert. She rushes to help and comes upon the Headquarters, a small building covered in mirror-like windows. After touching one, she experiences surreal halluncinations before waking up back home later that night. In the following days, she experiences increasingly strange occurrances. She recieves a phone call from Margaret, who claims to have seen the same thing Alice did. Alice goes to see Margaret and witnesses as she cuts her own throat and falls from the roof of her house. Before she can reach Margaret’s body, Alice is dragged away by men red jumpsuits.
Jack dismisses Alice’s calims and says Margaret simply fell while cleaning the windows and is recovering. The story is further backed up by the town physician Dr. Collins who tries to give Alice prescription drugs. Alice becomes increasingly paranoid and confused, and during a special Victory event, where Frank gives Jack an outstanding promotion, Alice breaks down in the bathroom and comforted by Bunny. Alice tries to explain everything to her, but Bunny reacts furiously, accusing Alice of being selfish.
Sometime later, Alice and Jack invite and rest of the neighborhood, except Bunny and her husband Dean, to dinner, with Frank and his wife Shelley as special guests. Frank speaks privately with Alice in the kitchen, implying that she is right in her suspicions. Propelled by his confession, she tries to expose him over dinner, instead, Frank gaslights her, making her look deranged to the other guests. In the aftermath, Alices begs Jack for them to leave Victory.
This film is a lot like The Stepford Wives, and at times seems like nearly a rip-off of the story. Despite the behind the scenes controversy with the cast, the acting is superb by nearly all but Harry Styles, but the story falls flat. It is far too similatr to The Stepford Wives and has a bit of a Desperate Housewives with an A24 twist, although this film was not produced by them. Harry Styles, isn’t a bad actor, he did a great job in his other film from this year My Policeman, but I think the reason he was just okay in this movie is becasue his character is meant to be handsome and empty. Sure he looks the part with his slim suits and perfect features, the camera loves him, but when it comes time for him to be deeply emotional, especially in scenes with Pugh, he doesn’t even compare to her talent in this one or his My Policeman role.
Much like Stepford, everyday is the same, the men leave for work at the same time with their fancy cars, gorgeous suits and lunchboxes, and go to their jobs at the Victory Project, which they can’t talk about with their wives. The wives spend the days cleaning, vacuuming, scrubbing this and that in their houses and maybe a dance class. There is almost always day drinking. Wilde plays Alice’s next-door neighbor with her cat-eye makeup and Cheshire Cat grin, she brings both mystery and arrogant sexiness and humor to the strange world.
Also like Stepford, the leaders are all about control: trying to keep mayhem down, which obviously doesn’t really work, because several neighborhood citizens start to get suspicious of the goings onaround them. The movie just gets stranger and stranger and really confusing at times. It seems to jump from one bizarre scenario to another. Some scenes are just plain weird and have no dialogue, only intense and/or creepy music.
This film, though classified as a physchological thriller, has the cerebral factor, but it is not as thrilling as most thrillers. So many scenes make no sense, like a scene where Alice is wrapping up leftovers with plastic wrap and decides to wrap her head and face too until she can’t breath and then rips it off. These moments are left unexplained until nearly the end, when you realize there really was something in Victory’s water, that it was all about control, mind, body, lifestyle. The leaders of Victory want to turn the residents into human robots.
The art of the film is flawless, from the brilliant cinematography from Matthew Libatique is, to the exquisite production design from Katie Byron, to the beautiful costumes from Arianne Phillips, which will probably be the only awards this one will win, because it sure as heck isn’t going to be Best Picture. You don’t learn the truth about Victory until close the end of the movie, but it takes a prolonged twist craziness to get there. Florence Pugh could win Best Actress, but she’d be the only one deserving of an acting award. The plot is nearly unoriginal, the film is pretty slow for much of its runtime and overall, just seems like a mess of weird events, some rather disturbing, filled with an attractive cast in beautiful attire. 18+ 2/5