Don’t Worry Darling (Review): Can’t Meet Its Ambitions

Are we willing to make sacrifices (of ourselves or others) to reach our ideal existence? Maybe? Read on for my review of Don’t Worry Darling.

The Victory Project is a 1950s experimental community based on one simple premise: giving people the lives they deserve. But there are some basic rules to which townsfolk must abide: men must not talk about their work at home, and women aren’t allowed into the dangerous deserts which surround town. A housewife named Alice begins to suspect the Victory Project of sinister intentions, but she must first find the proof.

Florence Pugh is insanely good in Don’t Worry Darling— but that was a given. She’s a versatile actress who portrays an impressive level of emotional complexity. This whole film rests on her shoulders, and she carries the weight well.

Harry Styles is a promising actor, though co-leading with Pugh did him no favours. His inexperience is highlighted by his abundance of screen-time. Styles was serviceable– but he failed to add necessary depth to Jack.

Chris Pine was equal parts charming and terrifying as Don’t Worry Darling’s antagonist. His presence lingers within the film (and in our brains), on or off screen, as his voice calmly permeates daily life within the community. I felt as if he was always present, watching and listening as The Victory Project’s “Big Brother” figure. And it always felt eventful whenever he’d appear in person.

Don’t Worry Darling features a great soundtrack, full of 1950s gems (many of which loosely comment on Alice’s inner monologue). Though I couldn’t help but notice there was no rock music. And then I realized that was likely intentional!

This film is all about social control, and conformity. Rock music’s explosion in the 1950s represented the exact opposite of that: rebellion, free thought, and the breaking of social norms. So rock music’s exclusion from this soundtrack actually aided Don’t Worry Darling by hearkening back to the “safer” side of the 1950s.

The production design of DWD is incredible! Each of the sets looked as if it could be true to its era– a rich neighbourhood from that era, I mean. Everything on screen was so lavish, luxurious, and stylish that I got jealous my home’s décor paled in comparison.

Arianne Phillips (DWD’s costume designer) also deserves heaping helpings of praise for her work. The outfits are outstanding! Older-styled clothes maintain a classic elegance which dress of today fails to replicate (even their casual-wear).

I must also note DWD’s beautiful color grading. I love when colours pop without looking overly saturated. And this element of DWD highlights a retrospectively tragic aspect of the 50s: everything was so vibrant, yet black and white photography was still the standard. So many beautiful moments were rendered with less flair than they deserved. Don’t Worry Darling shows us 1950s stylings the way they were meant to be appreciated.

By now you can tell I like a lot about the 1950s. That decade of North American history is an appealing fantasy for many reasons: they’re seen as a time when middle-class people could widely prosper– where stability of culture and day-to-day life were the norm, everyone had an important role to play in society, people were classier, and optimism for the future was high.

Of course there’s a dark side to that fantasy as well: suffering still existed amongst the prosperous, and the stability of society was based on regimented conformist attitudes which relegated entire groups of people into roles which were difficult to escape (house wives being a prime example).

Don’t Worry Darling‘s themes reach deeper than a shallow plead to the void for social equality (which seems to be where most entertainment’s concepts start and end). This film is about questioning our reality– asking why our roles are the way that they are. Did we choose our lives, were we forced into them, can we be different, and will society let us if we tried? I wrestled with these questions long after I left the theatre. And I was pleasantly surprised DWD got me to think as much as it did!

Don’t Worry Darling contains genuinely unsettling moments– some of which had me clenching my jaw (that’s a telling sign of investment for me). It was creepy at the very least, and sometimes verged on scary/ horrific!

But it was the kind of horror which burrows its way into your head, and sticks with you as you leave the theatre, and makes you question the world around you. Don’t think you’ll get to see some simple gore and go about your day. Don’t Worry Darling left me feeling so gross and uncomfortable that I debated jumping in my shower.

Here’s a double-edged sword: Don’t Worry Darling‘s scenes got time to breathe, but its pacing was abysmal. I enjoyed that Wilde let moments linger, because it added tension, or mystery, or allowed us to sympathize with Alice’s feelings at the time. But too many of these moments added up to a film which felt never-ending!

And Don’t Worry Darling features a frustrating conclusion. First its big twists left me unsatisfied, then it had the audacity to end without a proper epilogue. My complaint about the epilogue is more my a preference than a functional flaw. But I still wished to see how DWD’s resolution played out beyond its climax.

Speaking of the ending itself– it was… strange. Yes, it took some turns I didn’t expect; and the reality of the situation was suitably disturbing. Yet the implications of the ending broke the rest of the story and left me with annoying logistical questions. DWD’s lack of an epilogue annoyed me so much because I wanted more explanations for the big twist which made the story unnecessarily convoluted.

Don’t Worry Darling maintained my interest, but ultimately left me wanting. Its acting is amazing, and its story is decent. Though the pacing is terrible, and it doesn’t stick the landing.

Don’t Worry Darling is still Worth A Watch.

What’s Florence Pugh’s most impressive role to date? What did you think of Don’t Worry Darling? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know.

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Till next time,

Joe Morin

By Joseph Morin

Joe's passion for film and entertainment began at 7 years old when his younger brother demanded to watch Duel of the Fates every day for weeks (on DVD). Joe admired the sequence so much, he decided to dedicate his life to film-making and storytelling. He has a degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Joe loves DC superheroes (especially Superman), the first six Star Wars movies, and arguing about media with anyone who will listen.

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