Capsule Review: Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

After watching Olivia Wilde’s impressive coming-of-age teen comedy in Booksmart three years ago, which also happened to be one of my Top 10 best movie lists that year, I was looking forward to seeing what would be her next directorial project.

And the project in question is Don’t Worry Darling, which marks Wilde’s first foray into the psychological thriller territory. The movie follows a young married couple Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles), who live in an idyllic 1950s-style housing neighbourhood of Victory. It’s a peaceful desert town that is well-maintained and seemingly picture-perfect too with good neighbours all around. Not to mention Frank (Chris Pine), the founder and community leader of the Victory housing project keeps everything in order.

We see the husbands earning their livings working at Victory Headquarters while the wives would stay at home preparing meals, doing household chores, attending dance classes and spending some of their leisure time with other housewives. Other times, everyone would gather to have fun laughing and drinking booze at the parties.

Florence Pugh and Harry Styles in "Don't Worry Darling" (2022)

But it was just a matter of time before Alice discovers many things seem odd. Like how is it possible there is nothing inside after cracking a few eggs? Or why is it that no one cares about the sight of a plane crash other than her alone? Then, there are weird and surreal hallucinations that Alice has been experiencing every now and then.

Don’t Worry Darling benefits from Florence Pugh’s engaging performance front and centre and she’s the reason that keeps me watching. As for the rest of the cast, the acting is best described as a mixed bag, with Harry Styles’ performance as Alice’s husband failing to bring any substantial sparks of dramatic impact in his role. He is sadly miscast in this movie and this made me wonder what if Shia LaBeouf got the role instead if it wasn’t for his reportedly poor on-set behaviour. Chris Pine, in the meantime, delivers a decent supporting turn as the enigmatic Frank.

The movie has a distinctly glossy, yet eerie look and feel of a 1950s-style domestic melodrama with shades of The Stepford Wives and Blue Velvet mixing all together. There’s a sense of ominous dread lurking somewhere within the too-good-to-be-true gorgeous visual aesthetics, complete with John Powell’s creepy score that made quite a lasting impression. The latter is particularly evident during the climactic third act, where the score escalates into a full-on musical and vocal arrangement that evokes fear, oddity and paranoia.

Chris Pine and Olivia Wilde in "Don't Worry Darling" (2022)

And yet, it’s hard to shake off the nagging feeling that Don’t Worry Darling remains a missed opportunity. While I do enjoy the strange occurrences for most parts of the movie, the otherwise intriguing mystery nearly derails everything with an inevitable twist towards the end. Don’t get me wrong as the ending has its moments of tension and suspense (the car chase scene is one of them).

But the ending seems like a hasty job meeting the deadline as Wilde chose to wrap things up in an ambiguous and erratic manner. The kind which leaves more questions than answers but not in a good way that would spark worthy debates. And when the movie ends — well, rather abruptly — I feel a lot of things are missing here.

Someone should tell Wilde and screenwriter Katie Silberman that a twist or a big reveal would work better if the foundation of the storyline has more proper buildups without rushing things all at once and neglecting plenty of loose ends and plot holes.

Don’t Worry Darling is currently streaming on HBO GO.