By Colleen Bailey
Don’t Worry Darling was once the most anticipated movie of the year but has recently become the topic of cheap gossip columns. From a director-actor affair to the casting of an alleged abuser to a spitting incident, the heated drama overshadows the film itself. But what of the movie, lost amidst rumors and Hollywood speculation?
Don’t Worry Darling aimed to be a profound social commentary on patriarchal society but lands closer to an entertaining yet inconsequential psychological thriller. The film is set in a utopian 1950’s community located in sunny California. Every day, men drive to work in their shiny Chevy convertibles leaving the women to cook, clean, and drink at home. Every house is nearly identical with a painted white façade, a perfectly trimmed yard, and pastel mid-century modern furniture within. Every evening, dinner parties are hosted, and exorbitant amounts of alcohol are consumed. And every day the cycle repeats.
The downfall of this film can be attributed to the screenplay and Harry Styles’ performance. The overarching concept of the film is intriguing, even thought-provoking, but the screenplay fails to deliver. For a thriller banking on build-up and surprise, the film is incredibly repetitive especially in the middle third. Some would argue “that’s the whole point” —to highlight the perfect, routine life everyone leads. But eventually, the time comes to let the action rise but instead the plot waits undeveloped for another 20 minutes. Yet worse than awkward pacing is overwriting. The script’s lack of nuance cannot be overstated. Nothing is left to interpretation or assumption (To those who have seen Don’t Worry Darling, please ask yourself: how does the airplane tie into the plot? My case and point).
. Too much is said and too little is meant. In the endless potential of Don’t Worry Darling, not one original revelation or theme is presented.
Now, to the unavoidable, terrible truth—Harry Styles can’t act. He can sing, he can dance, but he cannot act. Styles’ presence on screen was strangely flat despite being a flamboyant global superstar. His line delivery was bland, and he often exited scenes unnoticed. But nothing was worse than his attempts at intense emotion. At the climax of the film, Styles grabs the steering wheel of his vintage convertible, jerks his body violently, then screams at the top of his lungs—could anything be more cliché? We love you Harry—just not as an actor.
But this is not to discredit the movie as a whole. For one, Florence Pugh gave yet another incredible performance, as did Chris Pine. And second, the visual appearance of the film is truly breathtaking. Pugh and Pine acted circles around Styles and the rest of the ensemble. Pugh was mesmerizing and emotionally persuasive, while Pine was creepy yet charismatic. Frankly, they prevented this movie from entering into corny, meaningless dystopia. But more astonishing than Pugh and Pine are the cinematography and production design departments. The cinematography by Matthew Libatique is gorgeous and engulfing; movie-goers can feel the warm, hazy California sun seep through the screen into their chilly, dark theater. And still the set and costume design are equally magnificent, from the Kauffman-inspired architecture of each house to the dangling, gaudy earrings on every wife. The outfits, backdrops, and props in each and every scene coordinate flawlessly and elevate the movie from mediocre to decent.
With all things considered, Don’t Worry Darling deserves 3 out of 5 stars. Was the film enjoyable? Yes. But does the film truly say anything that hasn’t been said before? No, not really. And does Harry Styles need to leave Hollywood? Absolutely.