Directed by Olivia Wilde, based on Katie Silberman’s screenplay, Don’t Worry Darling is a thriller with a seemingly rather troubled production. Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) live an idyllic life in Victory, the home of the Victory Project, a small town that looks like the embodiment of a perfect 1950’s American lifestyle. Beautiful homes, smart cars, men working important jobs and wives happily supporting them. When Alice notices neighbour Margaret (Keke Layne) become more agitated, she also starts to see cracks in the seemingly perfect world. Cracks that bring her into confrontation with her friend Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and also the founder and head of the Victory project, Frank (Chris Pine) it raises uncomfortable questions of what’s behind the project and uncomfortable accusations towards Alice.
While it’s had a supposedly troubled production and some mixed reviews, I enjoyed it. Wilde has taken a big swing at an idea and while she doesn’t land it perfectly, I admired the attempt.
The premise isn’t new, a seemingly perfect lifestyle that hides a dark secret. Wilde uses this to explore coercive control, misogyny and dark corners of the internet. But the familiar concept is a problem as you know a reveal is coming and it takes a long time to get there which makes it feel like it drags.
There are plenty of plusses though. It is brilliantly shot and Florence Pugh’s fabulous performance of growing desperation, in a world where all around her are making her feel it is her own paranoia, engages you completely and doesn’t let you go from start to finish. The film is at its best when she is alongside Pine, who is excellent as the dark and overpowering Frank. Other performances from Layne and Wilde also add well to the paranoia and underlying darkness.
While it has had mixed reviews, I enjoyed it and admired Wilde taking a big swing at telling a dark story, even if she doesn’t quite land it. While the story is laboured at times, in Florence Pugh it has a lead who keeps you hooked and fully engaged until the end. Not perfect, but more than watchable.