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Don’t Worry, Darling Review: Men and their Podcasts

On the surface, Don’t Worry Darling is doing everything right. Get ready to bask in the stardom of Florence Pugh, Chris Pine and Gemma Chan. The production value is Hollywood at its best with a gorgeous setting, period perfect costuming and a fascinating premise: what happens when the perfect life you are living is all wrong? In the middle of the desert, there promises to be mysteries, thrills, and Harry Styles. However, if you follow in the footsteps of protagonist Alice Chambers and look just a bit closer, you’ll realise that it’s all an illusion. 

Alice is married to Harry Styles’ Jack Chambers who, whatever TikTok will tell you, isn’t that bad in this film. In the very few moments he is in the film, it’s hard to gage what level Styles acting is at but what he does is competent enough. After he’s driven off into the mysterious mountain with Nick Kroll and the other husbands to Victory Headquarters, the ladies run the show. Alice and Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and their friends push the plot forward through their gossip about a wife who left the town borders- shock! -whilst martinis and window shopping. It is this same wife who causes a scene at Chris Pine’s dinner party and infects Alice with a curiosity that forces her out of her perfect life. 

It is Alice and Florence Pugh’s acting that pushes this film over the stodgy writing and plot holes. You can’t help but root for her as she risks it all to help a crashed plane that, after never being found, is never mentioned again. She battles being gaslit into thinking she’s crazy, a window that suffocates her for no reason, and her husband’s constantly changing accent. Her triumph is the films revelation that this is Wilde’s feminist reimagining of The Matrix, just not at all ground-breaking, thought-provoking or detail oriented. 

There is a contradiction between the film needing you to turn your brain off to enjoy it whilst asking you to turn it on to understand it. What could have been a critique of the misogynistic phenomenon of men listening to (or worse, making) podcasts around figures such as Andrew Tate and Jordan Peterson. The classic misogyny in men finding issue in women’s employment isn’t explored to give it any depth. Alice and the women of Victory appear happy and completely fine as trophy wives without any freedom. It is not the struggle against patriarchal restraint- against mistreatment or control- that causes the events of the film. It’s a chance encounter with a plane that serves as an unloaded Chekhov’s gun.

Described as a “vehicle for female pleasure” by Wilde, it’s almost offensive that said pleasure is mostly non-consensual. There is no girlbossing here, just gatekeeping and gaslighting by the other women that refuse to help their Victory sisters when they are in trouble. Don’t Worry Darling is lazy and muddled at it’s best but empty feminism at it’s worst. 

Despite the writing, it is one of the best-looking films this year. Although beautiful, the cinematography lacks inspiration when handling moments of tension, repeatedly relying on Pugh’s facial expressions to tell us how to feel rather than taking any artistic initative. The score is fantastically weaved in and out moments, twirling you into the romance of Alice and Jack but shaking you to the edge of your seat as Alice risks it all in the films climactic moments. 

Unfortunately, the bells and whistles are not enough for this film to be memorable when attached to a film that promises so much but gives so little. The momentum of the film lasts after the twist, keeping you on your toes until the very end. It promises to be some Autumn fun on the big screen, just don’t worry your pretty little head about the details, darling! 

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