The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit Correspondent, Tony Farinella.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is a film that immediately caught my attention when I saw the trailer for it back in the summer. I was impressed with Olivia Wilde’s feature film debut in 2019’s “Booksmart,” and the trailer for “Don’t Worry Darling” made me excited to see what she was going to do with her sophomore directorial film, especially considering the actors she had attached to the project. The trailer didn’t give away too much, but it looked stylish, interesting and worth checking out. However, as I’m sure many of you reading this are aware of, the film was not without controversy. If you are interested in gossip (personally, I’m not), you can Google it and read about it. I’m going to be reviewing the film on its own merits.
Florence Pugh plays Alice, a 1950’s style housewife, and she’s madly in love with her husband Jack (Harry Styles). Her days are routine and structured, but she always looks forward to the moment Jack comes home from work at Victory Headquarters, so they can be together. They have a healthy and active sex life. When the subject of having children is brought up, her friend Bunny (Olivia Wilde) is quick to shoot it down, as she proclaims they only have time for each other. Jack works a lot in this utopian experimental society where all the men work and all the women cook, clean and shop. It is the 1950’s to the core. The men seem happy and the women seem happy as well.
However, it is all turned upside down when Margaret (KiKi Layne) is shunned from their community for not following the rules. There is a very specific set of rules for women. They are not to ask too many questions about their husband’s work or venture off to the headquarters. Margaret has done something to leave her on the outside looking in when it comes to this community. Alice meets their leader Frank, played by Chris Pine, in a chilling performance. He is a charismatic cult leader, and all of the men are looking to impress him and stay on his good side. He has a personality where people are drawn to him and his every word. Pine really leans into this, and he’s magic on screen. Alice, however, is starting to suspect that something is not right about Frank or Victory Headquarters.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is truly a tale of two movies. You have the first hour, which is a little sluggish and bland, but it’s necessary to set up this world the filmmaker and writers have created. You have the second half where things are revealed to the audience, and the film starts to let us take a peek into the inner workings of the characters and their backstories. As a viewer, I admired the fact they didn’t spell everything out to us. The ending is even ambiguous, which I appreciated. All in all, though, I found the film to be Wilde paying homage to a film like “The Stepford Wives” or the works of Jordan Peele. She touches on themes of toxic masculinity, obedience and the price people will pay for the good life.
The strongest part of the film, far and away, is the performance of Florence Pugh. She’s one of the finest young actresses working today, and she is intense, emotional and incredibly powerful in each and every scene. In my opinion, it’s a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Without her performance, this film doesn’t stand a chance. She’s the star here, and it’s a performance which is so raw and vulnerable. The cinematography is also beautiful, and, in 4K, it is colorful, vibrant and full of life. It’s a great-looking film.
The film is flawed, however, as there are pacing issues and it does have a lot of ideas but doesn’t always know where it wants to go with all of them. When the film works, it works extremely well. When the film doesn’t work, it’s a bit of a slog to sit through and a little too stylish for its own good. They had a lot of ideas here, as mentioned, but not all of them are fully fleshed out or given the time to really shine on screen. Overall, though, I admired the ambition behind this film, and I left the experience feeling like I had seen a thought-provoking and multifaceted film that doesn’t get everything right, but the things it does get right are quite impactful and meaningful. If they had a clearer vision for this film, I would have liked it a lot more.
* * * out of * * * *
4K Info: “Don’t Worry Darling” is released on a two-disc 4K/Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It is rated R for sexuality, violent content, and language, and has a running time of 122 minutes. It also comes with a digital copy of the film.
4K Video Info: The HDR is mesmerizing on this film. A lot of the film uses natural light, and it looks fantastic in 4K. The movie stars look like movie stars, and you also get to feel like you are really living in this world with eye-popping visuals.
4K Audio Info: The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was the right choice for this flick. There are a lot of great bubblegum pop love songs played throughout this film, and they sound flawless here. The dialogue-heavy scenes are also easy to understand and hear without any issues. Subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.
The Making of “Don’t Worry Darling”
Alice’s Nightmare Deleted Scene
Should You Buy It?
This is a tough one. I have a feeling this film might gain cult status down the line, but as of right now I can’t recommend you buy it at full retail price. When it goes on sale, I think it’s worth picking up. This is an example of a film which was doomed from the start because some audiences and critics made up their mind on it before they ever sat down and watched it. It’s a shame because this is a good movie, and I liked it. Not everything here works, but it’s hard to deny the work of Florence Pugh and the directional eye of Olivia Wilde. It’s far from perfect, but I think with repeated viewings, it is a film that people will appreciate in the future. There is a lot to like here, but I also can’t ignore the bloated plot. It is a stylish looking film, but at times, it has too much style and not enough substance. It would have benefited from a healthy balance of both. The 4K looks and sounds really, really good. I was very impressed with what Warner Brothers did with this 4K release. The lack of special features is not surprising, considering the drama surrounding the film. For now, I’d recommend you stream it on HBO Max and buy it in the future.
**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.