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'Don't Worry Darling' REVIEW: Can the movie save itself from the real-life drama?

By Jerald Uy Published Sep 26, 2022 10:16 am

With all the brouhaha that happened during the premiere and press conference of Don't Worry Darling at the Venice Film Festival plus the exit of original lead actor Shia LaBeouf a couple of years prior, can the movie still trump the behind-the-scenes drama? 

Before heading to the cinema, be warned of a graphic suicide scene in the movie. This can be triggering and might put vulnerable viewers at risk. Make sure you are in the right headspace if you decide to watch it.  

Don’t Worry Darling is set in the 1950s - or so it seems - where domesticated wives bid their working husbands goodbye from their homes on a cul-de-sac. The men work for the Victory Project, a company that made the town, supplying the residents with food, clothes, and even ballet classes.

When one of the neighbors suddenly raises a question no one is asking, Alice Chambers (Black Widow’s Florence Pugh) starts seeing incoherent visions leading her to question her sanity. Her husband Jack (Dunkirk’s Harry Styles) is then conflicted with the possibility that he might no longer be on the good side of his boss Frank (Wonder Woman’s Chris Pine) after Alice’s breakdown. 

The film is suspenseful and full of red herrings that would appeal to fans of psychological thrillers. This is matched with beautiful cinematography and a remarkable visual style. Don’t Worry Darling is Olivia Wilde’s sophomore film after helming the comedy coming-of-age flick Booksmart. Her decision to take a back seat and exchange roles with Pugh pays off.   

At its best, it is a showcase of Pugh’s acting prowess, whose unforgettable wails from the horror film Midsommar likewise return to creep out audiences in Dolby Surround speakers. She carries the film creatively and physically, making the stellar cast that includes Styles, Wilde, Pine, and Gemma Chan (Eternals) as accessories. Chan though has a scene-stealing line reminiscent of her role in Crazy Rich Asians that might strike a nerve with misogynists, albeit more violently. 

At its worst, the movie has the DNA of the techno-paranoia anthology series Black Mirror all over it. With its two-hour and three-minute running time, Don’t Worry Darling feels like an overstretched episode of the series with familiar themes long seeded by The Matrix. If you’re coming in solely as a fan of One Direction and you don’t care about genre films, then you’re safe.  

At its best, it is a showcase of Pugh’s acting prowess, whose unforgettable wails from the horror film Midsommar likewise return to creep out audiences in Dolby Surround speakers.

Had the movie focused more on the relationship of the young couple, the rehashed plot device could have worked. That’s how the groundbreaking film 13 Cloverfield Lane did it — giving a great deal of time to the locked-room tension before revealing a much scarier status quo. The same goes with James Mangold-helmed Identity which revolves around the murders in a motel that was in reality the mind of the killer’s multiple personalities.

In Don’t Worry Darling, there was not enough work done to make viewers invested in the characters of Alice and Jack, and the town of Victory. The moments do not come together so the twist does not manage to hit the mark.  

All in all, watching Don’t Worry Darling can satisfy those intrigued by the on-set drama. Wilde creates a watchable product that will look good on Pugh’s acting CV. Perhaps a bigger plot twist will be - a tell-all movie on what really happened behind the scenes.  

“Don’t Worry Darling” opens on Sept. 28 in Philippine cinemas. Book movie tickets here.