Don’t Worry, it was mediocre


Alexi Knight, Assistant Arts & Leisure Editor

Since its announcement in summer 2019, “Don’t Worry Darling” quickly became one of my most anticipated movies to see in theaters. At the time I had just seen Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart, which is still a favorite film of mine, and was eager to see what she’d do next. When Florence Pugh was announced to star in 2020, my excitement only grew – her performance in the 2019 “Little Women” blew me away and I was eager to see what she’d do next as well. 

Harry Styles is also a favorite artist of mine, so I was excited to see what his performance would be like. The decision for him to replace Shia Lebeouf gave me hope that he’d also become one of my favorite performers on the screen. 

As the drama surrounding this film grew over the past few months and the bad reviews began to hit my Twitter feed, my excitement remained, but shifted from genuine intrigue and hope in the film to mostly wondering just how bad it could actually be. As soon as tickets were available, I rushed to buy one, and found myself at the movie theater last Saturday, finally seeing the film that I had been most anticipating for over two years. As the credits rolled and the lights came up, my friend and I turned to each other and agreed: “Don’t Worry Darling” is not a bad film. 

I won’t say the film is perfect by any means, and I could point out many of its flaws. The pacing felt out of place at times. The tension first built up quickly, then plateaued for pretty much the entirety of the second act before the twist (which I was able to predict to some degree from the film’s start) arrived. 

There were many fascinating plot points that were introduced only to be left behind and underdeveloped. Many of the characters are portrayed through excellent performances with nearly not enough screen time. Chris Pine’s Frank and his wife, Gemma Chan’s Shelley, have a relationship built upon villainous intent that I wanted to know so much more about, and wished had been far more prominently explored. Wilde’s character Bunny also shined, and her backstory, while intriguing, was glossed over in one very short scene without further explanation. 

And then there’s the elephant in the room that I’m sure you’re waiting for me to address: Harry Styles. Was he phenomenal? No. But was he the worst actor I have ever seen? Also no. His performance is fine, albeit a bit boring for a good portion of the film. Once the twist approaches, though, we see a different side of his character that I was not expecting, and I thought his portrayal of those moments were quite good. His performance fell most flat when arguing with or shouting at Florence Pugh, who shined brilliantly as the film’s lead, Alice. 

Paired with another lead actress, perhaps he would have stuck out less, but in my mind, Pugh is a talent unlike any other who would have outshined almost anyone she was acting against. Her performance is of course at the top of my list of the film’s pros, but that was not surprising to me whatsoever. 

I would buy a ticket to watch anything she is in, from something with a great cast like “Little Women” to her simply reading the dictionary. She is a star in every sense of the word, and while many of the performances in the film are ones I enjoyed, hers takes the cake without a second thought. 

Wilde’s directorial vision also shines throughout the film. The shots are incredibly visually pleasing, perfectly matching the clean and crisp production design in a way that perfectly builds a 1950s-esque “utopian” world. There are also several motifs throughout the film that allude to the specifics of the twist in really creative ways from the opening scene all the way to its end. 

The problems throughout clearly are born in the script, not in her work. And as disappointing as I have found some of her decisions in how to handle the drama that has been swirling these past few months, I genuinely look forward to the next film she directs. With a better script, I think she has the potential to be one of the most talented directors of her generation. 

Perhaps best described as the child of “The Stepford Wives” and “The Truman Show,” “Don’t Worry Darling” is a decent thriller, predictable but beautiful and (for the most part) well-performed. It may not have quite fit the Oscar bait bill, but it was an enjoyable effort on the parts of Wilde, Pugh and Pine, and certainly worth ten dollars and an afternoon at the movies.