Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Flix at :48: Don't Worry Darling

Ways To Subscribe
Movie poster for the psychological thriller Don't Worry Darling
Theatrical release poster

It's not an exaggeration when I say this year has been desolate and unsuccessful for mainstream Hollywood and movie theater audiences. So few memorable films have appeared on the big screen in 2022. In the current month of September, we're less than one year from COVID-19 tapering off, and we're unfortunately in the middle of its ripple effects when most film development and production was paused indefinitely back in 2020. So when a film like Don't Worry Darling comes along at a time like this, it's a refreshingly strong and sexy indictment of strict gender roles and a vision of how to make America great again.

When a young 1950s housewife witnesses her neighbor die in their remote polished suburb, her dreams and hallucinations escalate, causing her to question her safety, her husband and the very reality of her existence. After the success of her 2019 teen comedy Booksmart, director and co-star Olivia Wilde (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, 2021) now gives viewers a psychological drama that's like Rosemary's Baby (1968) meets The Stepford Wives (1975) meets The Island (2005). Perfectly peaceful lives in this radiant suburb (filled with vintage cars, floral dresses, and endless cocktails) are undercut with bickering couples, simmering paranoia and dangerous secrets.

Even though some twists are predictable in Don't Worry Darling, some are not, because the story takes its time watching the leading lady anxiously piece together her reality and her memories. Olivia Wilde maintains a nice juxtaposition against the manicured production design with the "supervising" cinematography; combining a sense of surveillance with elegant circling shots that circumscribe the unstable housewife and all her surroundings.

It's a little "on-the-nose" naming the main housewife Alice and having most of her hallucinations in mirrors and walls of clear glass (hinting she's in an artificial wonderland). Don't Worry Darling also has a few moments of dialogue that feel rushed or pressed for time. These moments are near the climactic ending and possibly couldn't be afforded any time for characters' feelings to settle in. (Once a film's pacing shifts into high gear, it's difficult to slow it down.) But overall, it's a curiously appealing film that held my interest...mostly from all the actors' emotionally grounded performances led by Florence Pugh whose natural grace and steady suspicions make her magnetic. Even Harry Styles (Dunkirk, 2017) does well as a carefree amorous husband.

This film has had some recent publicity on behind-the-scenes drama. But now it will hopefully just have publicity on its creative success as a film that is subversive, feminist, and determined to expand on its referential subject matter. Yes, the references in Don't Worry Darling are plentiful and clear. From Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) to The Truman Show (1998) to Fight Club (1999), it's easy to see where this new film gets many of its ideas. But Don't Worry Darling expounds on these ideas enough to be original and amusing for all viewers (especially the female ones).

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.