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Don’t Worry Darling (Venice Film Festival)

3 min read

Warner Bros

During the press conference for Don't Worry Darling, precarious new lead made an interesting, if laughable review of his own film, stating “the movie feels like a movie.”

And yet, despite his poor articulation, Styles isn't wrong.

Whilst a cacophony of reality tv style controversy swirls around Olivia Wilde's second directorial outing, don't worry (Darling)… this is still a film to be excited for. 

With bright production design and an artistic direction, Don't Worry Darling emits a strong prowess for immersing audiences in a story, fulfilling that powerful escapism required by “movies that feel like movies”. With a clear sense of time and space, Wilde promotes a bold palette, constant intrigue and an elevated ensemble to absorb viewers right through the screen, into this seemingly perfect 1950s world. 

Warner Bros

Reminiscent of Marvel's Wandavision, the atmosphere is one of hyperbolic characterisation and stereotypical lifestyles, where everything seems fine until it isn't. The women stay home, cooking, cleaning and learning ballet, while the male cast creepily drive synchronised into the desert to continue work on their mystery project. (And trust me, the creepy actions of these male characters do not end there).

Living contently within these binary gender roles, life feels relaxed and enjoyable for the whole ensemble – to the degree that even audiences enjoyed the comedic and light-hearted environment- until slowly but surely 's Alice awakens the truth. Her descent towards reality is incredibly intriguing, with Pugh creating the logic and focus to guide viewers through a dreamlike third act.

In fact, Pugh is the primary reason to watch this film, with her tour-de-force acting remaining centre-stage above Wilde's creative but disjointed directing. Harry Styles's first lead role is satisfactory enough, with his part certainly having an interesting array of emotions to play with. Most of these work well, although his better moments are always alongside Pugh's more experienced hand. 

Warner Bros

The remainder of the ensemble works well together too, with and Gemma Chan creating particularly fascinating antagonists who simply do not receive enough screen time. 

Atmospheric and chilling, this is a movie which will keep you guessing even after the credits roll. However, this also hints at some unfulfilled plot holes, which arise from Wilde's slippery structure and borrowing of repetitive plot ideas. There are many promising metaphors hidden within the thriller, where ideas about life, gender roles and reality often fall short of their potential, slipping quickly through thoughtful reveals and onto the next dramatic sequence.

Nevertheless, Don't Worry Darling does well to reach an exciting level of immersive viewing that audiences are bound to enjoy first or even second time through. Colourful, immersive, intriguing and embolden with a great sense of space and time, this precarious thriller really does necessitate the atmospheric big screen and communal reactions of cinema outing.

Which, I think, is what poor Styles was trying to say all along. 

Don't Worry Darling aired at Venice International Film Festival and will be released in UK cinemas on September 23rd