Don’t Worry Darling (2022): A Worrisome Conundrum


Paolo Acob, Photographer

Olivia Wilde’s highly anticipated film starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh Spoiler-Free Review

Don’t Worry, Synopsis
Imagine a world without explanation: a perfectly constructed worldview serving the nuclear family dynamic as husbands drive to work, women stay home and take care of their children or tidy the house and cook dinner. “Don’t Worry Darling”, directed by Olivia Wilde, explores this messy journey into confronting this rigid facade of reality.

Viewers are first acquainted with Jack and Alice Chambers, a happily married couple in the midst of their honeymoon phase. The course of the film follows the two throughout their day-to-day life, while slowly expanding the scope of characters by introducing the audience to their friend Bunny – played by Director Wilde herself – as well as the activities they engage in together and the professions the two occupy.

It is not until the encounter with Chris Pine’s character, Frank, that the film’s 1950-esque facade begin to fade, as one of the neighboring community members, Margaret – played by Kiki Layne – yells in revolt against Frank, causing a scene and scrambling the focus of everyone’s attention. The film takes viewers through a journey following Alice as she attempts to decipher her community’s purpose for their very existence.

Don’t Worry, Controversy
During the production of the film, reporters were quick to notify the public of a sudden controversy that spurred on the set of “Don’t Worry Darling.”

Alex Abad-Santos, a writer at Vox stated, “While filming, Wilde split with her longtime partner Jason Sudeikis and began dating the lead of Don’t Worry, pop star Harry Styles. Speculation is that Wilde and Styles have had an affair on set. That timing would explain why Sudeikis served Wilde custody papers during a huge promotional stop for the movie. Meanwhile, Pugh, the star of Don’t Worry, hasn’t been on the same page as her director.”

Pugh, despite Wilde’s glorifications, has remained cold towards her director as she barely promoted the film and publicly expressed distaste in regard to her performance’s accolades being reduced to her sexual scenes.

According to Puck News writer Matthew Belloni “…Pugh was unhappy that Wilde kept ‘disappearing’ with Styles on set once the two began a romantic relationship.” The worrisome list of controversies continue to grow, with Wilde and actor Shia Labeouf falling out, rumors of Styles spitting on Pine at the premiere, and Sudeikis presenting custody papers to Wilde during her presentation at CinemaCon to name a few. Considering the amount of controversies reported to the public, one can not help but question the film’s quality, let alone whether the production was worth it or not.

Don’t Worry, Darling
Contrary to public concern, the composition is foreboding and intricate, providing viewers with plenty of detail to scan with each frame. Sound design is daunting and angelic, perfectly setting the eerie tone of the film. Even the screenplay is expressive as each character’s mannerisms slowly change throughout the course of the narrative.

The narrative is quite interesting throughout the entirety of the film, keeping theater-goers on their toes regarding the ever-changing direction of the film. Audience members are left with a consistent stream of questions and assumptions once a new clue is uncovered. In doing so, “Don’t Worry Darling” excels in subverting expectations.

Being Wilde’s sophomore film, a lot was to be expected especially after her astonishing production of Booksmart (2019). The picture delivers without direction, providing viewers with dead ends, as the film consistently provides interesting concepts with no discernable direction to be explored.

Whether the film was worth the controversy or not, DWD succeeds in being a spectacle with no substance. As DWD continues to receive divisive reviews, the production has grossed $36M in the domestic box office, and $21M internationally thus far, exceeding the $35M budget used to produce the picture.

Like a tree without leaves, simultaneously fulfilling yet unsatisfying, “Don’t Worry Darling” had many branches of reality’s facade dissolving that are dropped without a full grasp. Following Alice in discovering the truth, audience-members are as confused as Pugh in some cases, as she finds glimpses of what might be without answers to look for.

For many, the handling of these film devices could spell enjoyment or lack thereof depending on the critic. Nevertheless, many unanswered questions throughout the film could be dismissed as “up to interpretation,” justifying the open-endedness of some scenes.

Whether this will make it or break it for you, “Don’t Worry Darling” was definitely worth the watch. For fans of Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone, Truman Show, or Marvel’s Wandavision, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a mystery worth experiencing.