Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Life could be a dream… and is, for Alice (Florence Pugh), a 1950s housewife living in a remote, close-knit community purpose-built for the families of her husband’s (Harry Styles) new employer. Every morning she and the other wives wave off their spouses as they drive (in a fleet of glamorous 50s cars) across the surrounding desert to the top secret installation housing mysterious but ‘important’ work. The women’s days are filled with housework, shopping, gossip, and cooking, but they’re always ready in a pretty dress, cocktail in hand, ready to greet their returning husbands.

You just know, though, that there’s going to be something wrong with this seemingly ‘perfect’ utopia, don’t you?

Cracks start to show quickly, clues to whatever the mystery of the community and company might be. Charismatic founder and leader, Frank (Chris Pine), holds everyone in the palm of his hand – but there’s something just that bit unsettling in his message. And then one of the wives, Margaret, seems to have a psychotic break. But are her warnings about something being wrong more than just paranoid rantings?

I didn’t know too much about this movie going in, apart from some truly daft dramas that had nothing to do with the actual film and are best ignored. From the start I really liked the spectacle: this perfect façade, all 50s glamour and excellent soundtrack, that you absolutely knew was hiding something – and probably something pretty awful, at that.

The mystery builds quickly, but there’s plenty of time for theories a-plenty before we finally find out what’s going on. There are so many ways this story could have gone, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure they picked the ‘best’ one. Or rather, while it’s an excellent idea, I do feel this is the part where it all started unravelling as there are just a few too many “yeah, but how would that actually work?” kind of thoughts. Or perhaps I’m just far too good at picking holes in things!

That said, I was never less than intrigued, and the journey to get there was full of style. The performances are good, particularly Florence Pugh and creepy Chris Pine. I have very little opinion on Harry Styles in general, and while I think he’s fine here I do wonder if hiring a proper actor would have at least been less distracting. It did feel as if the utterly random dancing scene was a little too on the nose, frankly.

There’s a lot that could be discussed in terms of changing times, and particularly women’s roles in the world. It’s so appropriate to contrast this ‘utopia’, so clean and bright and nice, with a thought or two of how society at the time actually viewed and treated women. It’s probably not subtle at all, but it doesn’t feel shoved in your face as a message either. There’s also a jarring juxtaposition between how wholesome we view those times (or, the TV shows that shape our view of them, I suppose) and the amount of sex going on. It’s not explicit at all (no nudity) and yet somehow quite raw. Full kudos, though, that it’s never used as a part of the ever darker forms of control and abuse that become apparent.

Overall, I enjoyed this more perhaps than it fully deserves. I thought it looked good and was set up very well, and the ideas were intriguing if not always perfectly executed. The ending isn’t disappointing, per se, just doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny once you scratch the surface. Your mileage, as they say, may well vary!

don't worry darling posterReleased: 23rd September 2022
Viewed: 28th October 2022
Running time: 123 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 7/10 – bonus points for style and interesting ideas

3 thoughts on “Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

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