Don’t Worry Darling

An attractive, but disappointing mystery-thriller made by a professional woman.

“Don’t Worry Darling,” Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to her directorial debut of “Booksmart,” is a cinematic representation of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That means the film looks great with the production values, but underneath it exterior is a crappy interior.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against Wilde, or any of her chosen stars-Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, KiKi Layne, and Chris Pine-but this movie misses the mark, and rips off a number of movies, like “The Stepford Wives,” “The Truman Show,” “Get Out,” and even “The Matrix,” if you look close enough.

The production values I’m referring to are the houses, furniture, and cars of what is a 1950s California town. If it’s in the middle of a desert, since this is the Cold War, then shouldn’t this neighborhood be a model town for a nuclear test? It shouldn’t be if the food the wives are cooking are nourishing and the TVs and record players work. Either way, they look amazing and fun.

The reason Wilde guided Pugh in the lead role of the housewife Alice Chambers is because of how powerful she was in “Midsommar.” I’ve asked Wilde a question about her directing skills when “Booksmart” came out, and I told Pugh I loved her in “Midsommar.” In fact, in “Don’t Worry Darling,” the director, who also has an acting role here, guides Pugh with nearly the same principles as that horror hit, but not enough of the execution of that.

Alice’s husband Jack (Styles) goes to work, where his boss Frank (Pine) is the genius behind “The Victory Project.” What is that? I don’t know. Alice doesn’t know. And Jack can’t tell her. I can assume it’s some kind of nuclear project or if it’s controlling the women, as if they’re supposed to be subservient to the men.

The movie has to immediately jump to conclusions when Alice cracks empty egg shells and when a neighbor of hers-Margaret (Layne)-starts saying this town is fake. Nobody believes her, not even Alice. Now Alice begins to suspect that something is amiss.

She begins arguing with her husband, getting criticized by her best friend Bunny (Wilde) for sneaking out of town and stealing files from a doctor (Timothy Simons), and even confronting Frank about his dastardly plans, whatever they are.

I’m pretty sure people are salvaging to see “Don’t Worry Darling,” because it’s an A-list project with that 50s atmosphere, so I won’t spoil whatever comes up. But most of you have missed out on the pure genius of “Booksmart,” which pushed a teen comedy genre further with funny and sentimental vibes. This one tries too hard to cater to various audiences with the twists and turns of what this town is really supposed to be. Not even the screenplay from Katie Silberman (also from “Booksmart”) could shake things up.

Pugh and Pine are the ones who deliver, while others like Styles and even Wilde fail to entertain us. They’re practically formulaic characters with not much truth or challenges in them. And based off the trailers, I’m not surprised Styles is a bad guy, and this 1D star was great in “Dunkirk.” This is not the first-class thriller we were hoping to see. In fact, it’s pretty tedious and exhausting.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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