“Don’t Worry Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde, is one of the most controversial films of late and has had its moments, both good and bad. The film follows the characters, Alice and Jack, through their lives in a utopian community during the 1950s. The film is a psychological thriller that touches on the topic of feminism. In my opinion, Wilde’s attempt to push a feminist narrative comes across as shallow and overdone, but other aspects of the film allowed me to enjoy it.
The cinematography can only be described as beautiful because of the shots that Matthew Libatique uses. We often get recurring shots of toast and coffee in the morning that allow us to feel the intense feeling of repetition and the subtle feeling of suspense. The use of visual cues and underlying hints is something that stood out to me, and throughout the whole film, I continued to wonder what would come next. The sets were wonderful to look at and worked hand in hand with the cinematography.
Along with an incredible combination of cinematography and set design, there is the leading performance by actress Florence Pugh. While I believe the message of feminism was not as nuanced as it could have been, Pugh displayed the concept of “feminine rage” incredibly well. This has been seen before in Pugh’s work, such as her performance as Dani in “Midsommar,” where her ability to portray this rage and sorrow is perfectly evident. As Alice, Pugh’s character in “Don’t Worry Darling,” is dragged through this psychological thriller, her emotions feel like your own. This can be almost completely accredited to Pugh’s ability to display emotions so raw that they feel like your own.
When it comes to my critiques of the film, I must point to Harry Styles’ performance as Jack. While not overwhelmingly horrible, Harry Styles’ performance felt stale when compared to Pugh’s. His attempt at rage is almost laughable, and his demeanor throughout the whole film feels two-dimensional and uninteresting. While I applaud his acting ability, especially in such a highly advertised film, I believe he was the wrong choice for the role. As well as Style’s performance, my criticism of the film returns to the shallowness of the message left by Wilde. The ideas of feminine rage and feminine sorrow are evident, but it feels overshadowed by the experimentalism and loose dialogue. The lack of any true revelation of the meaning of the utopia leaves the viewer feeling unsatisfied—as though they felt this sorrow and rage for nothing at all.
While I think the film missed good opportunities to create a nuanced psychological thriller, the cinematography, soundtrack and Pugh’s acting allow me to confidently recommend this film to those with a flexible perspective. If not, maybe save your tickets for another film. Maybe one that better showcases Florence Pugh’s talent.