3 out of 5 stars (average)
If ever there was a movie held back from greatness by forgetting the little details, it would be Don’t Worry Darling. Director Olivia Wilde last entertained us with 2019’s sex comedy Booksmart and does so again with this bizarre yet fascinating thriller about the secrets and lies hiding in our own backyard. Its cast is largely excellent (especially Wilde, who I feel gives a career-best performance here), and the mystery hiding behind the dark curtain is certainly terrifying, but the script’s overlooking of logic details and proper relationship establishment leaves the film with less emotional power than it could have had. Still, Don’t Worry Darling is an entertaining thriller that once again shows Olivia Wilde as a director to watch.
In the idyllic 1950s, Alice (Florence Pugh) lives in a planned community with husband Jack (Harry Styles). While Jack and the other husbands spend their days working on the mysterious Victory Project, Alice spends hers cleaning the house and chilling by the pool with BFF Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and her other friends. When neighbor Margaret (Kiki Layne, Chip ‘N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers) starts acting strangely, it leads Alice to question her perfect existence and the purpose behind the Victory Project, putting her in the crosshairs of the charismatic yet sinister Frank (Chris Pine wearing a Neon sign above his head reading “I’M SUSPICIOUS”) who leads the community with an iron grip.
Don’t Worry Darling is a loopy good time. Olivia Wilde’s direction is visually immersive and a majority of the cast is strong. Florence Pugh is the queen of emotional freakouts and carries the film confidently, while Pine is a suavely snakelike televangelist type and Layne delivers solid intensity. The musical score also gets under your skin and the ultimate twist is creative and skin-crawling, yet reveals several logic gaps that are never filled in. Crucially, Alice and Jack’s romance is underdeveloped (We see them make love repeatedly, but never establish why they fell in love) and Styles seems to operate on 3 acting levels: quiet, charismatic, and SCREAMING. There are also weird flashes that pop in that don’t amount to much and the ending underwhelms by leaving out an important beat, but the ride getting to it is engaging enough. Don’t Worry Darling is a creepy, weird, and largely well-acted thriller that won’t break the mold, but it will entertain you. See it.
Rated R for Violent Content, Sexuality, and Language