Review: Don’t watch it, darling



Florence Pugh stars in “Don’t Worry Darling,” the latest release of Director Olivia Wilde.

Director Olivia Wilde set the bar high for herself after 2019’s “Booksmart.” “Booksmart” was a hit with critics and audiences alike, grossing a total of $25 million dollars. Her new movie, “Don’t Worry Darling,” is an ambitious thriller that falls flat. Following Alice and Jack Chambers, played by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, a husband and wife living in a 1950s company town, a community created by a corporation for their employees and families to live in. Everything in the town of Victory, seems to be as perfect as a Norman Rockwell painting; however, Alice begins to have strange visions and questions that their idyllic life is not what it seems. 

Florence Pugh is easily one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood. Pugh has no Oscars, but was nominated for her supporting role in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.”  She has consistently delivered wonderful performances, and despite “Don’t Worry Darling” not being a great movie, her acting is one of the high points. She brings a realness to her roles that I cannot look away from. The same can not be said for her costar, pop sensation Harry Styles.

Harry Styles as Jack Chambers has to be one of the worst performances I have seen in a big-budget studio movie like this. Styles certainly has the look for a young ‘50s husband, and the scenes where he just has to stand around and look handsome are no problem; however, once he has to show some emotion, things fall apart. When his character needs to have scenes with any emotional weight, he loses any sort of believability. His anger and sadness scenes would feel at home in a middle school production of “Newsies,” and it is such a shame that his bad acting distracts from his scene partner acting her heart out. Maybe his acting would be better if he was being directed by someone other than his current fling, but I seriously doubt it. Styles is a ‘Wilde-ly’ talented entertainer, but this movie makes it clear that the silver screen is not his strong suit. This is made ever more troubling considering he is now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and many other yet-to-be released movies. 

I adored the production design and costumes of this movie. The company town of Victory is a 1950s dream. White picket fences, classic cars with vibrant colors, and beautiful sunshine make the community have the Americana feel that I love. Additionally, the costuming of the residents makes everything super squeaky clean. The environment and old school feeling of this movie was definitely one of few highpoints.

A major problem with “Don’t Worry Darling” is the scatteredness of the plot. This is a film with many interesting concepts, but it does not commit to any of them. There is teasing of a satire on ‘50s America, a feminist thriller and some horror adjacent ideas. All of these are ideas I like; however, there is not a strong enough focus on any one of these to strengthen the movie itself. I wanted to enjoy this story a lot more, but the bouncing between concepts and lack of sticking to one made the overall plot feel muddled and messy. If Wilde had picked one of these ideas and fully committed to it, we would have a much better movie.

Camerawork is not something I usually comment on in these reviews unless it is excellent or very bad. Any guesses on which one “Don’t Worry Darling” is? The camerawork in this movie is something that did not work at all for me. There is a party scene near the beginning of the movie where the husbands and wives of Victory are chatting in two different groups. The camera continuously cuts between the conversations while simultaneously panning to show every person in their respective group in a very disorienting fashion. This might very well be what was intended for the scene, but it came off as trying too hard to be artsy and cool. 

This was a very disappointing watch. My hype for this movie mainly came from the drama at Venice Film Festival, with Florence Pugh skipping the red carpet and Harry Styles spitting on Chris Pine. I had more fun keeping up with the drama surrounding this movie than I did sitting in the theater watching it. In the past few days even more clickbait articles about the troubled production have come out, but after seeing it, my interest has shriveled up. 

“Don’t Worry Darling” can be best summed up in one word: ambitious. It is a movie that wants to do and say a lot, but ultimately fails. It is not a completely awful movie, Pugh’s performance and the look of the movie are fantastic. However, the good parts are outnumbered by many lackluster elements. I cannot say I recommend going to the theaters to see this movie, however, if it sounds interesting or you just want to see Harry Styles chew scenery, I would suggest waiting for it to be on HBO. 

I am giving “Don’t Worry Darling” two out of five stars.

Connect with Jacob Costello: @MrJacobCostello