The release of DON’T WORRY DARLING comes with a lot of controversy behind it. A lot has been said about the troubled production over the last year, from the original casting of Shia LeBoeuf as a pivotal character to the possible clash between filmmaker Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh, to the recent press conference where there was a lot of awkwardness when asking hard-hitting questions about the production.
Looking past all of this and finally getting to see DON’T WORRY DARLING this week…it still all kind of works and is like a light-beer of a movie. It comes on strong and is enjoyable while you watch it, yet you likely won’t remember it 30 minutes after you leave the cinema.
The movie cold-opens on a swinging dinner party set in a suburban California town that appears to be in the thick of the 1950’s with martini glasses, big hair and lots of laughter. This is an era I have always been fascinated with for its Googie architecture, big rooms, cars and how no one could eat a properly balanced diet or practice responsible drinking. I would certainly not drink as much as the character here, but I still want to live in this era and you’d likely find me at a roadshow cinema seeing the latest Cinerama premiere.
But anyway. Something isn’t right in the suburbs of Victory, and it becomes apparent to Alice (Florence Pugh) who keeps getting clues as to something more sinister is behind the scenes. Her husband Jack (Harry Styles) works outside town at what is called the Victory Project, something of which is not explained but hinted at many times. Alice gets more and more convinced of behind-the-scenes horrors while the entire town seems to be against her.
Of course a lot of this is predictable and the premise calls back to a lot of older movies AND you likely could figure things out from the marketing material. What surprised me about DON’T WORRY DARLING is just how involved I got while I was watching it thanks to its impressive visual design by way of Matthew Libatique’s stunning widescreen photography. This is such a good looking movie throughout with lots of eye popping colors and great use of framing, both in its wide-shots and effective closeups. Director Olivia Wilde, who has been acting for decades and burst onto the filmmaking scene a few years ago with the hilarious BOOKSMART takes a much different approach here and I’m looking forward to where she goes next.
DON’T WORRY DARLING worked for me while it was happening, mostly thanks to a terrific performance by It-girl Florence Pugh, who completely owns this movie and I really loved how expressive she was. Most of the supporting cast is good-to-great; Harry Styles will certainly be an attraction for most people here and he’s pretty good as Jack who may or may not be holding secrets, but is not the most memorable. Chris Pine has a great role here as the Victory Project leader who has some conservative leanings and much of the supporting cast is solid.
While the movie does tend to have more questions than answers in its final act, which of course I don’t want to get into for this review, left me somewhat dissatisfied. Yet I then looked back on everything that happened before from its impressive plot twists and thanks to a terrific Pugh and an excellent visual design, DON’T WORRY ENOUGH is strong enough for me to recommend.
DON’T WORRY DARLING is now playing in theatres. Thanks so much to Warner PR in Toronto for inviting me to an advance screening of this movie for review.