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Photo: ‘Don’t Worry Darling’
It’s been on numerous “most anticipated films of the year” lists and now it’s finally here! ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ debuted in theaters everywhere on September 23rd, and it makes for a twisted way to begin the fall season. Long before its release, the film made headlines with its promising premise, and went mainstream with the constant gossip and drama surrounding it. But it’s time to put all the behind-the-scenes speculation away and focus on the art of the film itself.
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Are you ready to live the life you deserve? That’s been the tagline for ‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ and is a perfect encompasser of the messages conveyed throughout this story. Set in the 1950s, we follow Alice, played by Florence Pugh, and Jack, played by Harry Styles, a happy couple living in an ideal community (more on the actors in a bit). All seems well until Alice begins questioning their life together, and a fun feast of psychological thrills ensues. It’s an intriguing basis that lends itself to an inventive experience when viewing the film. Overall, it succeeded in taking the audience on a journey and immersing that audience inside the heads of these characters. Though certain moments feel slower or forced, the sweeping plot is worth it. If you want to witness an enticing story, and you’re willing to let a few liberties slide, take a night out and go on the rollercoaster that is ‘Don’t Worry Darling.’
‘Don’t Worry Darling’ – Powerhouse Performances
Directed by Olivia Wilde (who also stars in a supporting role), with a screenplay by Katie Silberman, the film commands attention with its choice of high-ranking actors. It’s no secret to anyone that Florence Pugh shines the brightest with her portrayal of Alice. Her character is the driving force behind the story, and Pugh is such a powerhouse in every role she takes. Known for her emotional turn as Dani in ‘Midsommar,’ and later gaining more traction with her Oscar-nominated performance as Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women,’ and MCU appearances as Yelena Bulova, Florence Pugh continues to prove both her talent and genius. Acting alongside her is the music icon himself, Harry Styles. For some time now the pop star has been racking up acting credits from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk,’ to the soon-to-be released ‘My Policeman.’
Though the focus is on our leading lady and leading man, the rest of the cast provides more depth to the plot and the world our characters live in. Chris Pine’s complex character Frank adds to the mystery of it all, and the world needs more scenes of Pine and Pugh together. Though this film only includes a handful of scenes between the duo, they bounce off of one another so magnetically. Gemma Chan of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ fame plays Frank’s wife, Shelley, and her graceful yet strong demeanor makes for another incredible performance. Filling out the rest of the main cast is KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, and Asif Ali. Though their screen time is limited, everyone makes the most of their roles and deserves praise.
Never Go Out of Style
The style and production value of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ deserves to have their own shoutout too. The setting of this 1950s community itself is uniformed and strategic. The style adds up to make this film visually appealing, but it is also thematically relevant. The setting is woven into the plot, and there was clearly care put into every home, every costume, every palm tree. On the note of costumes, the fashion elements of this world mix in notions of the 50s and 60s trends, and having these trends reinforce the identity of the character wearing them.
Furthermore, the style plays into the genre of a psychological thriller. The decade, the editing of the shots, and the angles of the shots all work together to tell this story. Mirrors are practically their own character and are commonly used in film for the various visuals they can lend themselves to, and for the reflective nature, they literally and figuratively stand for. The mirrors in this film led to some stunning shots and sequences, and furthered Alice’s journey as she contemplates her life. The film’s use of mirrors reminded me of another recent favorite, ‘Last Night in Soho,’ which tackles the same genre.
The Psychology of a Psychological Thriller
People watch thrillers because they want to be thrilled. Shocking, I know. It’s a spectacle to be taken down the rabbit hole of any film in this genre, and ask yourself question after question until the ending arrives, typically with a twist, and the mystery is solved . ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ plays into the expectations of the genre, though at times it relishes without reasoning. If you’ve seen any previews for this film, you may remember Florence Pugh having plastic wrapped on her head or breaking yolkless eggs. These moments tie into the thrill of it all, but sometimes it leads to asking “why?” Why is this abnormality occurring? That “why” is a center point for the plot, but there are moments where the psychological aspect of it all feels like a gimmick. I’m no expert in psychology, and I won’t try to be, but when it comes to film, many movies within this genre provide a spectacle with plenty of abnormalities, though not everything plays into the bigger picture. It sometimes feels as though strange shot sequences are thrown in just for their strangeness and not for any relevance.
All critiques aside, I love the genre, and ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ has cemented its place in it. For the year 2022, it has brought originality and intrigue into the film world, standing out from the common blockbuster entries and franchise indulgences. The concept held up, and I was immersed in this world. I could spend hours discussing the social themes behind it all, and I likely won’t shut up about this film for while, for better or for worse. It’s a whirlwind. So I have just one question for you: are you ready to live the life you deserve?
Cast: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Olivia Wilde, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, and Asif Ali
Director: Olivia Wilde
Screenplay: Katie Silberman, Story by: Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke
Producers: Richard Brener, Catherine Hardwicke, Celia Khong, Roy Lee, Alex G. Scott, Kate Silberman, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, Olivia Wilde, Miri Yoon
Music by: John Powell
Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique
Editor: Affonso Gonçalves
Production Design by: Katie Byron
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.