‘Don’t Worry Darling’s’ Utopia is Immersive and Challenging


Zoe Bullock, Staff Reporter

Don’t Worry Darling, a mystery/thriller directed by Olivia Wilde, is taking the world by storm after its release on September 23, 2022. The film centers around the achievability of true perfection and the realization that no one is truly perfect. 

Alice (Florence Pugh) and her husband, Jack (Harry Styles), live in a utopian society in the 1950s called “The Victory Project.” Each morning the men go off to work while the women stay home, clean the house, and gossip with their friends. Frank, the mysterious Victory Project leader, convinces them he has created a perfect world. Lavish parties and expensive luxuries surround them. The only rule is that the women are not to go outside of town to Victory Headquarters. But, when Alice starts questioning Frank’s motives and “The Victory Project” itself, chaos and mystery ensue.

Alice, the film’s main character, is a solid female lead. Her story has captivated audiences everywhere. Black Widow and Midsommar actress, Florence Pugh, plays Alice beautifully. Pugh carries the film. Her storytelling is terrific, and her emotional range as a character is incredible. Her performance did not feel fabricated. Even with the immense range of emotions shown, Pugh made it very natural. It was apparent that Pugh did her research and paid attention to even the most minor details. I genuinely believe it will be a crime to society if Florence Pugh is not nominated for an Oscar for this film.

Jack, Alice’s seemingly perfect British husband, carries the mysteriously charming nature of the film. He seems almost too good to be true at the film’s beginning, wholly dedicated to his wife and would do anything for her. Pop sensation Styles’ character is one of the reasons Don’t Worry Darling has gained so much popularity since its announcement in 2019. For someone with minimal film and acting experience, I was pleasantly surprised by Styles’ performance. His natural emotional range was impressive, and his ability to connect to the character was strong. As a Harry Styles fan, I was a bit worried about his acting but was pleasantly surprised toward the film’s end. 

‘Don’t Worry Darling’s’ Jack played by Harry Styles

The leader of Victory and the villain of the film, Frank (Chris Pine), is one of the most confusing characters in the movie. He is very charming, charismatic, and mysterious. However, for someone who is supposed to be the film’s villain, it seems like Frank encouraged Alice to question his motives. Chris Pine did an excellent job with his role and was very believable, but I left the theater wanting more from Frank as a character. I think this issue was less the actor’s fault and more the writer and director’s fault, but it made the film less believable.  

The last of the key characters in this film is Bunny (Olivia Wilde), Alice’s best friend and neighbor in Victory. She is very compliant with the strict rules and lifestyle of this society. Due to this, she gaslights Alice into thinking her hallucinations and questioning are because she is crazy. Olivia Wilde does a pretty good job with the role. But, while watching, all I could think about was how strange it was for a director to give herself a starring role. She did well and was believable, but she was the weakest of the four stars. Even though she was originally an actress, her directing style is much stronger than her acting. I think Olivia Wilde should focus on directing more.

To me, the plot is relatively easy to follow. The directorial style of Olivia Wilde reflects the “perfection” of Victory through repetition while also showing Alice’s doubt through sharp cuts to disturbing scenes and Alice’s hallucinations throughout the film.

Florence Pugh and Harry Styles in Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling.’

The cinematography and character work in this film is unique and artistic. It is very reminiscent of an Indie film. Wilde focused on the creative and artistic standpoint to tell the story when directing this film. A standout scene for me was a scene in the dance studio. During the day, all the women take ballet classes because ballet is a discipline of dance where there is a right and wrong way to do things. Technique and movements must be perfect, like the idea of perfection in Victory as a society. As Alice questioned more and more, the camera revolved around the dancers quickly, showing the togetherness of the dancers compared to Alice, who was stopped in her tracks, questioning everything. At the film’s beginning, we hear someone walking into the studio. Still, the camera focuses on Alice, which symbolizes the mystery of Victory as a society and Alice’s internal struggle. 

The entire film was very immersive to the audience. All the costumes and sets were reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s. Wilde also drew inspiration from other movies and novels of the same idea, most notably, The Great Gatsby. Towards the middle of the film, there is a large party reminiscent of the parties shown in The Great Gatsby. We see this representation significantly in the colors of the gala. Gold and black surround the screen through the costuming, sets, and lighting. The color choices may represent the idea that something can be lavish and grand on the outside but hide deeper problems, which we see through Alice’s internal struggle throughout the party.

I enjoyed this film. The story was captivating and exciting, the acting was believable, and the technical elements immersed me in the story. Don’t Worry Darling was a film where I internally asked questions the entire time. After every scene, I questioned why that happened and what the mystery behind Victory was. I found myself stress-eating popcorn for what was going to happen next. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with how good this movie was after the reviews I had seen online. Though the film is similar to other movies and TV shows, including Wandavision, The Stepford Wives, and The Truman Show, Wilde brings an interesting, new take on the idea of a utopian society and its implications. 

This movie is not for someone who doesn’t want to think when watching a film, but if you are a fan of thrillers, Harry Styles, mysteries, and love to challenge yourself mentally, I would highly recommend going to see Don’t Worry Darling in theaters.