‘Don’t Worry Darling’ entertains, but acting and plot fall short

Mae Luning and Merrill Short

Harry Styles, Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde star in one of the year’s most anticipated films—Don’t Worry Darling. The movie is set in the fictional desert town of Victory, California where everything is a little too flawless. From the always-sunny weather to the picture-perfect families, on the surface Victory seems like the ideal place to live. Throughout the film, we follow Alice (played by Florence Pugh) as she begins to question her reality and uncover the dark secrets that surround the city and everything she believes to be true. 

Don’t Worry Darling is the second movie directed by Olivia Wilde (the first being Booksmart, undoubtedly the stronger of the two). She attempts to make a statement on gender roles and the patriarchy through the lens of a 1950s neighborhood in mystery/thriller style film with a twist ending that ultimately fizzled out into disappointment. Though I had high hopes at the start of the film and many details and questions were undeniably intriguing, I found the resolution to be predictable and borderline unoriginal. What Wilde no doubt intended to be woke and unique comes off as a Truman Show or Matrix-like film that simply isn’t as good and certainly isn’t original. It also left the audience with a lot of unresolved questions (ie. what really happened to Margaret?).  

Despite these flaws, Don’t Worry Darling certainly wasn’t all bad. The film had excellent cinematography, a stand-out element in an otherwise subpar film. Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer for the film, is most well known for his incredible and one-of-a-kind work with director Darren Aronofsky on the films Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and Black Swan

In addition, the film demonstrated the talents of an undoubtedly strong cast– especially that of Florence Pugh. Previously known for her jaw-dropping acting in films like  Little Woman, Midsommar and Black Widow, there is no doubt in my mind that Florence Pugh stole the show, or, in this case, the movie. Pugh was the center and driving force of Don’t Worry Darling and managed a brilliant and emotional performance despite being put next to a not-so-strong co-star—Mr. Harry Styles (Sorry, Harry fans! He’s a singer, not an actor). Styles’ only notable performances have been a small role in Dunkirk and the lead in the upcoming movie, My Policeman, both of which did not earn him particularly exceptional reviews. So, while it isn’t entirely shocking that Styles didn’t give an outstanding performance, I was expecting a bit more from someone who landed a role in the Oscar winning movie, Dunkirk. The unfortunate side effect of pairing Pugh with an amateur like Styles is that the contrast in dramatic ability comes off very strongly. A scene that comes to mind is a climax/turning point of the film in which Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles), the married couple at the center of the story, have a huge fight. The scene was intense, emotional and outrageously overdone by Styles. 

 For a film that has been going viral nearly since its announcement all the way back in April of 2020, the result was not what I expected or wanted it to be. However, I wouldn’t say that Don’t Worry Darling isn’t worth watching. It may have missed the mark for some key factors, but it is, nevertheless, an entertaining watch.

As stated by Harry Styles in an interview on the “Don’t Worry Darling” press tour, “my favorite thing about the movie is that it feels like a movie.” Ok, Harry Styles. Thank you for your expert commentary.