Before the premiere of the Hollywood film “Don’t worry darling”, there has been non-stop gossip. About the firing of scandal actor Shia LaBeouf. About an infidelity on set that allegedly caused bad blood between director Olivia Wilde and lead actress Florence Pugh. And about one actor allegedly spitting on another during the premiere at the Venice festival – among other things.
But with the exception of the talked-about sex scenes (“pop star Harry Styles performs oral sex!”), very little has been said about the film itself. It has been described as an erotic thriller – but “Don’t worry darling” is much more than that. So much more that half could be enough.
The film takes place in an idyllic residential area in a highly stylized 1950s vintage, in the small Californian town of Victory. All the women are housewives and all the men work for the mysterious Victory Project, the company that founded the city.
Here Alice (Pugh) and her husband Jack (Styles) live in a perfectly decorated house, in perfect sync with each other and with the neighbors. Alice scrubs the avocado-green bathtub and cooks amazing dinners, and when Jack comes home from work, they have passionate sex on the dining room table. But then Alice begins to sense that all is not right in Victory. What exactly does her husband and his colleagues do all day?
What follows is an partly exciting and partly rather tough search for the truth, where composer John Powell’s feverish music and photographer Matthew Libatique’s fancy images sort of set the stage for disappointment when the illusion finally ends with a “yes”.
We are served a story about women’s oppression and fragile masculinity – marinated in Jordan Peterson ideology – that in a way feels incredibly current. It could have caught fire, if it hadn’t been told so clumsily and snidely.
Perhaps Olivia Wilde’s biggest slip is that she tries to make this story romantic—like the choice between living a free life and having to babysit Harry Styles is actually something to even consider.