"Don't Worry Darling"
Nice note with large gaps
Florence Pugh as Alice begins to question her perfect life with husband Jack in Olivia Wilde's psychological thriller.
Alice leads a perfect life. The relationship with husband Jack is one of passion and sex instead of a busy family life with children. They live under palm trees in a picturesque community. The sun is shining every day. While the men go to work, they drink Women in pretty dresses cocktails by the pool. Nevertheless, Alice doubts her perfect life - with fatal consequences.
Olivia Wilde (38) was immediately enthusiastic about Alice's story in "Don't Worry Darling", she recalled in numerous interviews in recent months. The film is her second major directorial effort. According to the actress, who can be seen in a supporting role herself, it is a "feminist psychological thriller" that celebrates "female lust" and criticizes a patriarchal system. Not only because of this premise, the two-hour strip has to meet high expectations. After the headlines and scandals surrounding the actors threatened to overshadow the actual thriller in recent months, many are asking themselves the question: will the film live up to the press hype?
A (too) perfect life threatens to fall apart
It is Florence Pugh's (26) first leading role in a major Hollywood film, having already shone in the indie horror film "Midsommar" and later in the remake of "Little Women". Unsurprisingly, the 26-year-old also impresses in the role of Alice, who has the perfect life alongside Jack, played by Harry Styles (28), doubts.
Like several other couples, Jack and Alice are among the lucky chosen few to live in the "Victory" settlement. The community built in a desert not only looks stylistically from the 1950s. Gender roles are also reminiscent of this time. The men work while the women take care of the household. Jack and the other husbands drive to the Victory Project Headquarters far away from the community lines every day and work there on "progressive materials development". At least that's what they tell their wives. Because what exactly they do there to enable wives and families to live in comfort and luxury is top secret.
In return, they expect support and love from their wives. While they enjoy a life between ballet lessons and shopping trips, they should not question the goals and work of Victory CEO and visionary Frank (Chris Pine) and should never leave the settlement. Because behind the supposedly perfect facade lurks an unknown evil. Alice realizes this when neighbor Margaret trespasses with her son outside of the Victory facility's confines. Margaret then returns completely distraught and without her son. When Alice begins to question paradise too, she is plagued by nightmares and delusions. Is there really something wrong with Victory or is Alice going insane?
"Black Swan" meets 1950s utopia
From the first scene, "Don't Worry Darling" lets the cinema audience dive into another world. It draws viewers into the intoxication and optimism of a 1950s utopia. The colorful costumes, music by Oscar-nominated composer John Powell (59) and fantastic visual depiction of paradise in the desert create an atmosphere that alone is worth going to the cinema for. Alice's increasing delusions, which are mostly expressed in mirror scenes and gloomy ballet dances of abstruse horror figures, form a stark contrast to the shots of a sunny idyll. But these scenes lose strength and goosebump factor due to their frequent repetitions in the course of the film. Some viewers may also remember these scenes from other films such as "Inception" or "Black Swan". Unsurprisingly, two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (54) captured these scenes. He also stood for that psychological thriller with Natalie Portman behind the camera.
Due to the constantly repeating scenes that are reminiscent of other blockbusters, "Don't Worry Darling" loses drive and originality halfway through. While by now both the main character Alice and every viewer should be aware that something is wrong here, it takes a lot of time for the film to solve its big mystery. This solution comes at the end of the film with an unexpected force in the form of a bitter plot twist. However, on closer inspection, it reveals some logical errors. While the perfect paradise "Victory" threatens to collapse, the thriller transforms into a bloody action film in the last few meters with further revelations. The last open questions are eaten up a little too quickly and sloppily. In the end, the film leaves cinema audiences breathless and confused.
Wanted a lot, not quite able
It's unfortunate that the film scratches so many things but doesn't sell very convincingly. Because the metaphor that "Don't Worry Darling" tries to tell is an important one: In a world created and ruled by men, women who question the system are declared crazy. What is particularly interesting is that the film was conceived according to the ideal of the 1950s. The film not only criticizes the role model of that time, but also of today. He sheds light on the idea of a perfect life that still prevails in many minds today, but is only drawn according to masculine, outdated standards. Olivia Wilde called the utopia of "Victory" in an interview with "Variety" as "paradise defined by the primarily monogamous, misogynistic media landscape and world in which we grew up". Interestingly, her personal idea of paradise looks similar to that in the film. "My version of paradise is very nostalgic and actually comes from a world that doesn't serve me at all as a woman."
Wilde originally wanted to take on the role of Alice himself. But she liked the idea of Jack and Alice being a younger couple. In retrospect, this decision did the film a lot of good, since it's the freshness of Florence Pugh and Harry Styles that gives the psychological thriller the necessary momentum in sometimes lengthy scenes. Styles doesn't manage to build up a three-dimensional character in his second film role with Jack - although it remains to be seen whether this was intended in the sense of the film. But his charm as a perfect husband combined with Pugh's alternation between a joyful lover and a desperate, emancipated wife result in an exciting combination that makes the film worth seeing despite its flaws.