Don’t Worry Darling – movie review

The much talked-about Don’t Worry Darling has created some pre-release buzz, not always for the right reasons. But alleged on-set and Venice Film Festival tension should fade into the background when audiences see this very stylish, if somewhat illogical film. But again, the buzz might not always be for the right reasons.

Katie Silberman (who also penned director Olivia Wilde’s delightful film, Booksmart) wrote the script from a story by Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke. The story starts off very intriguingly and takes you along for much of the ride, but you can’t help noticing a couple of wide logic gaps by the end of it.

Still, it’s nice to watch Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in action together. Both put in charismatic performances as husband and wife, Jack and Alice. They live in a perpetually sunny, idyllic 1950s Palm Springs planned community. Here all the wives look glamorous and contented as they wave off their husbands each morning, the men all backing out of their cul-de-sac driveways at the same time. But early on we see that where they’re heading to – Project Victory headquarters – looks rather strange and ominous. Questions start to be raised about what is really going on.

Chris Pine (Wonder Woman 1984) plays Frank, the seemingly benevolent and inspiring founder of this safe space (it’s constantly called ‘safe’) away from the big bad world. In return he demands absolute loyalty. Things don’t go so well for those who question the complete conformity. So when Alice starts asking questions after sensing something is amiss, the tension starts to build.

Pugh (Black Widow) displays her usual prodigious acting chops as the full disturbing reality of what she’s a part of sinks in. Director Wilde is also on hand as Alice’s neighbour, Bunny, exuding 1950s chic as she sips cocktails most of the day, waiting for her two adorable children to come home on the school bus.

The Stepford Wives flavour of Don’t Worry Darling will be mentioned in most reviews. There’s also more than a hint of the 1950s-’60s TV series, Mad Men, as well as other movies that probably shouldn’t be mentioned because it will give too much away. This is a very gendered world where the men do their ‘duty’ by looking after their women, while the women revel in their domesticity. That is until they don’t.

It’s just a shame the plot has a couple of unforgivable holes. It makes you wonder why no-one at some point along the way pointed them out!

Vicki Englund

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