A twisty, tense sci-fi mystery set in the 1950s -what could be better? Don’t Worry Darling, directed by Olivia Wilde, offers up some amazing sets, costumes, characters, and a surprising storyline. Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, and Chris Pine star in this subtle thriller that speaks to many contemporary issues and entertains with its vivid imagery and quality cast. While not perfect, with Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde manages a slow-burn plot elevated by an exceptional cast.
Pugh and Styles play Alice and Jack, a happily married couple living an idyllic life in a close-knit suburban-esque community. They are madly in love and deeply embedded in all aspects of their world. He works for the company that founded the community, and she is a dutiful, perfect housewife. While the men work, the ladies attend dance lessons and luncheons and tend to household duties. It all seems perfect, except when one of the wives, Margaret (Kiki Layne), first wanders into the desert, where her son disappears and then cuts her own throat and falls from her roof. Alice, who briefly spoke to Margaret before her death, starts questioning her reality and Jack’s boss (Pine). Soon, she is on a run for her life, and the curtain falls.
Wilde, who also stars in the film, presents an impeccable setting – vivid colors, exceptional costuming, and picture-perfect characters. There is an oddly nostalgic feel that makes one wonder what everyone is hiding. Wilde doesn’t wait long to reveal a conflict – a proverbial chink in the reality that is the community of Victory. However, in spite of Wilde’s vision and Pugh’s impressive performance, Katie Silberman’s story lacks the depth that she seems to promise. Little is fresh in the basic plot, and when she reveals her twists, she spends too brief a time letting us in on the secret.
On one hand, Don’t Worry Darling is stunning and well crafted, but it lacks the depth necessary to drive its points home. What is Wilde’s point – the oppression of women like in the 1950s that never really ended. She hints at a deep-seated undercurrent of how we have evolved little since the 1950’s mindset, and we need to break the pattern. Overall, Don’t Worry Darling doesn’t quite hit its mark, but the cast, especially Pugh, is perfection. I am placing 2 stars because the site doesn’t allow for 2.5. Silly, but here we are.