Florence Pugh adds another powerhouse performance to her repertoire while standing above a film clouded in rumour and conflict. Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling provokes plenty of intrigue but does so little with the material to substantiate to the viewer.
Don’t Worry Darling has had one of the most interesting press tours that we have seen in a while. The marketing for the film promoted the film as a high concept thriller and there is some deliverance to that – it mostly lacks in birthing any substance to it. Before diving into that piece of the film, we’ll cover off the cast as it’s mostly straightforward on that front. There has been a lot of discussion about leading man Harry Styles whether that is in relation to speculative controversy or his acting ability, it’s mostly negative. In fact, I’d stress that his weakness in the acting is almost a distraction if Pugh wasn’t able to pull us back in quickly. Styles struggles to provoke any sense of an emotion from the viewer as any scene with elevated emotion feels completely forced and awkward – however, that tends to happen when he fluctuates so heavily in accents throughout those scenes. Now onto Pugh, who has become one of the most reliable and trusted actors in the industry today, she digs deep and gives everything into the film. With the support of some excellent technical work, Pugh carries the majority of the film and is the central point of the film where audiences can get immersed, through her performance.
While the ideas in the film definitely got me intrigued and the high concept only heightened that feeling, I couldn’t help but feel that the pacing of the film was the root cause of the problems. The first act of the film does a successful job at introducing us to the characters and the world while also allowing a sense of intrigue to grow as the characters start to question their surroundings. However, the second act doesn’t really do anything to push forward the narrative but only elevates the level of teasing as to what is actually happening. That leaves the last act to unravel all of the film’s lacklustre secrets without having the time to explore the themes and thus, the film doesn’t have anything substantial to say. Now one can infer fairly obvious commentary in the film such as gender disparity in modern society or the power of illusions. Albeit that is all speculative because nothing is ever being developed where the utopian thriller can be anything that is thought-provoking. Whether we want to blame the pacing of the film or the screenwriting being unable to develop its ideas – it doesn’t matter, it’s still quite jumbled with that. This may feel like such harsh criticism but overall, the movie is solid and can be enjoyed – particularly with the performance of Pugh. Just manage expectations and don’t expect anything thought-provoking or mind bending as the trailers would suggest.
Set in California during the 1950s era, Don’t Worry Darling perfectly captures this time period through its sets, props and costuming. The costumes the characters wear immerse the audience into the time period, with the slick suits and golfing polo attire for the males, and the bright vibrant dresses paired with bow-like hair accessories for the females. It’s the little things that just hammers in this time period to feel authentic such as the 1950s vehicles, vintage vinyl players and even the very old school hoovers. The cinematography is strong throughout the film as well with a bright californian colour filter being used throughout the 1950s which makes the scenes more vibrant. The dark hallucinating acid trip scenes are most certainly eye catching and weird, as we are shown 1950s war time esqe dancers, ballerinas and an odd eye that the camera passess through. John Powell composes the score for this film where the utilisation of 1950s era of music is the beautiful cherry on top of this time period sundae. It’s not just the song choices that are great but also his ominous and intense musical score that captivates the viewer to what’s happening on screen. The most notable is the Tenet-like score piece that is played throughout the final scenes of the movie which capture the emotion and desperation of the characters in the most heart inducing way possible.
While there is some fun to be had here. Don’t Worry Darling struggles to develop any of its commentary that is being pushed here and eventually falls flat upon its last act. Florence Pugh once again graces the screen with another class act.
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