By: Amanda Guarragi
Everyone wants to live the perfect life; for some, the 60s nuclear family values are something to strive for. During the period, women were somewhat content with living as a housewife, which was considered a job, while their husbands would go out to work. They cooked, cleaned, and served their husbands, but eventually, that wasn’t fulfilling enough. Women went on to break that cycle, are now independent, and have strived for equality. Women have the right to choose the person they live with, the way they live, and most importantly, they have their careers. So why would anyone want to go back to a time that wreaked of misogyny and the perception of a perfect life under social conditioning and gender stereotypes? The answer is men.
In the 1950s, Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) live in the idealized community of Victory, an experimental company town that houses the men who work on a top-secret project. While the husbands toil away, the wives get to enjoy the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their seemingly perfect paradise. However, when cracks in her idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something sinister lurking below the surface, Alice can’t help but question exactly what she’s doing in Victory. Pugh gives another outstanding performance and carries this movie on her shoulders. Her character Alice slowly descended into madness and Pugh gave a layered performance as she gets lost down the rabbit hole. The concept was fine up until the reveal of the twist within the third act. But there are really strong moments from Pugh to make the build-up interesting enough to sit through.
Director Olivia Wilde made some interesting choices but ultimately the script wasn’t fleshed out enough to match her vision. Wilde and director of photography Matthew Libatique brought the 60s back with an old-fashioned suburban feel. The costumes and production design were authentic and brought the era back to life. Some avant-garde elements in this psychological horror miss the mark in trying to embed the concept early on. The series of images cut through Alice’s mind as she tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together through a very blurry mind. As stated above, by the time the twist arrived, it was a rush for any viewer to understand the concept entirely. And, in all honesty, it’s a bit concerning the lengths screenwriter Katie Silberman went to tell this story. It’s being marketed as a feminist piece, but under the surface, it is the total opposite, which is a bit alarming.
Don’t Worry Darling is gorgeous to look at and the cast works well together. There are some sinister moments that Pugh delivers in a haunting way and you do emotionally connect with her. She was the strongest part of this film, with Chris Pine coming in as a close second. Without the two of them, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. Similar to the 60s nuclear everything seems perfect on the surface, but internally there are many issues. The film isn’t perfect and Wilde did the best she could with a script that wasn’t quite polished enough to stick the landing. It had the potential to speak on gender roles and the first half did do that, but once the twist comes in it dampens the messaging. A script like this about women in 2022 just doesn’t feel right but in a way, it does show the extent that men will go to.