There's been a lot of controversy surrounding Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling. She's not only at the helm as director but also plays Bunny, a desensitized resident of the glossy, idealized Victory community. All controversy aside, it's simply not a very good film. Written by Katie Silberman and Carey and Shane Van Dyke, the film aspires to be a meditation on patriarchal capitalism and retro-steeped nihilism but comes off like a grad school thesis film.
With John Powell's pressing score often overbearing and a weak plot, the movie suffers from shallow self-importance. Master cinematographer Matthew Libatique creates a visually impressive landscape, with sonic colors and frenetic scenes. It's these frenetic scenes, though, that prevent the movie from having any depth. Just when the characters start to have an interesting conversation, it's on to the next high-octane scene.
Starring magnetic Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine, the movie is a pseudo-Stepford Wives (1975) rehash without the soul of its predecessor. Even Florence's thunderous performance as Alice Chambers can't save a wilted script. Set in a 1950's utopian community, the film doesn't take the time to establish the characters or the community. Of course, once we learn the secret of the community, it's anti-climactic because we've already checked out of this vapid oasis.
Some of the scenes between Florence and Harry are quite steamy but besides those, Harry isn't as distinct as Jack Chambers as he was as Alex in Christopher Nolan’s sweeping war epic Dunkirk (2017). Chris Pine as Frank is supposed to be a villain but there are no layers to his character and no insidious atmosphere to buoy his iniquity, which makes him an anemic bad guy.
Unfortunately, the potentially poignant message of the film is lost in shoddy direction and a faulty script. A film that should be thought-provoking and intense is two hours of misguided pulp.
The Warner Bros. release hits theaters on September 23, 2022.