If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the last month, you’ve probably seen the drama surrounding the Don’t Worry Darling movie release. Harry Styles, a music icon and one of the movie’s stars, and director Olivia Wilde refuse to look into each other’s eyes, and actress Florence Pugh appears to have no desire to be around some members of the cast at all.
This is what we know: Shia Labeouf was originally cast for Styles’ role as Jack in the movie. Wilde claims that she fired Labeouf, but leaked conversations between the two show that Labeouf may have left due to lack of rehearsal time between the actors. Wilde had also allegedly begged Labeouf to come back, which people are speculating to be the reason there appears to be tension between Wilde and Styles.
Pugh also appears to take issue with a potential romantic relationship between Styles and Wilde. And Wilde has heavily promoted Don’t Worry Darling by talking about the sex scenes between Pugh and Styles because they emphasize female pleasure instead of only male. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, however, Pugh said she disliked that the movie was being “reduced” to its sex scenes.
Despite all the negative press, the film deserved the seven-minute standing ovation that it received at the Venice Film Festival. Don’t Worry Darling keeps its audience’s attention, building suspense at every turn.
Don’t Worry Darling is a mix of Jordan Peele’s thriller Get Out and Peter Weir’s eerie exploration of false realities in The Truman Show. Like Weir and Peele’s films, Wilde creates an atmosphere that seems off from the very beginning, and it makes the audience want to keep watching to figure out why.
The movie opens with an old record spinning at a party at the house of Jack (Styles) and Alice (Pugh). The party scene seems normal, with adults drinking cocktail after cocktail, playing party games, and dancing like drunk teenagers.
A sense of eerie monotony dominates the movie’s depiction of the partiers’ return to their daily routines, making it all feel like a simulation. When all the husbands leave for work, their cars pull out at the exact same time. While the husbands are away at work, their wives stay around the home and community. They run errands and clean the house but are prohibited from leaving the community or visiting the area where their husbands are supposedly working on the mysterious “Victory Project,” led by Frank (Chris Pine).
The set and costume design stands out as the film crafts Jack and Alice’s community, and though the film takes place in modern day, it has a retro feel. The dated models of the husbands’ cars and the wives’ ’60s and ’70s–style dresses add a vintage feel to the modern thriller.
The community members don’t have cell phones—only landlines—and the women listen exclusively to the radio throughout the day. Invoking a past time works well with the film’s investigation of this controlling community, as a handful of cults—including the Manson family and the People’s Temple—gained national attention in those decades.
The sound design, especially with the radio, is the element that best creates the uneasy feeling in the community. It airs inspirational broadcasts about the importance of sacrifice and “supporting the mission of the community.” Many of the twisted scenes of the movie have an uneasy buzzing sound in the background that becomes louder as the intensity of the scene increases.
While Styles’ accent in the movie has been heavily critiqued on social media, there is a reason—revealed at the end of the movie—as to why he is the only British person in the community. Although the duration of the movie captures your attention, there are many confusing elements that do not necessarily add to the plot or make it more clear.
In one strange, unnecessary scene, Frank watches Jack and Alice have sex in one of the rooms of his house. It did not seem to serve any purpose besides proving that Frank is creepy, which was already obvious based on the propaganda-like speeches he gives to the community.
Pugh’s role as Alice is the standout of the movie. She delivers a compelling performance as a woman struggling to understand this community and to maintain her sanity as she is being gaslighted by the men and other women that surround her.