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Don’t worry about rushing out to theaters: “Don’t Worry Darling” doesn’t live up to hype

(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures) “Don’t Worry Darling is Harry Styles’ first movie with a leading role.”

Troy Lafond
Connector Editor

After releasing the critically acclaimed and excellent coming of age comedy “Booksmart”, director Olivia Wilde shifted gears to make her sophomore outing a thriller. “Don’t Worry Darling” had a lot going for it: an A-list cast in Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Wilde herself and Nick Kroll, directorial buzz from Wilde’s prior outing and a seemingly topical premise and behind-the-scenes conflicts generating interest. Unfortunately however,  “Don’t Worry Darling” adds up to far less than the sum of its parts.

“Don’t Worry Darling” follows Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) living in a secluded community as Jack works for a mysterious company. They live a seemingly picturesque life, but Alice beings to grow suspicious of the world around her. It treads closely to “The Stepford Wives” in story, but audiences may also notice some similarities with “Get Out”.

The cast of the movie is both its biggest victory and its biggest struggle. Pugh tries her best to carry the entire movie and almost succeeds. Her emotionally tormented portrayal of Alice is excellent and deserved to be seen in a far better movie than this. Thankfully, there are better horror thrillers where Pugh plays an emotionally tormented woman, such as 2019’s “Midsomnar”. Pine does similarly extremely well as the boss of Jack’s company, although his performance can veer a bit too close to camp for the rest of the movie around it.

Dragging the movie down is co-stars Styles and Chan. Styles is given a plethora of emotional scenes to shine as Jack, but delivers them in such an awkward way that it, at times, elicited unintentional laughs from the theater audience. While he does a fine job in many of his scenes where he is just being a normal, everyday husband, any attempt to go outside of this range falls flat, leading to one of the worst acting performances of 2022. Chan is a bit more inhibited by the lack of material she was given, but is flat in almost all of her scenes. This even includes her emotional climax.

Another major problem with “Don’t Worry Darling” is in its script. The movie discards numerous seemingly important plot points from early in the movie by the end, contradicts itself in its plot twist and struggles to fully realize its themes. This incohesive narrative holds “Don’t Worry Darling” back from reaching the heights it could have otherwise.

Behind “Don’t Worry Darling” was a string of good ideas. Wilde has been building up a solid behind-the-scenes reputation with the success of “Booksmart”. Pugh is, at this point in her career, infallible. Styles is a megastar in pop music and put on a solid performance in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk”. Pine has been successful in mainstream movies for a long time now. Chan had a scene-stealing performance in “Crazy Rich Asians” and did a solid job leading Marvel’s “Eternals”. The screenplay writer, Katie Silberman, also wrote “Booksmart”. It takes its cues from well-received movies, and with its talented cast, should have been a slam dunk.

However, by the time the credits roll, “Don’t Worry Darling” can only be defined as a confused mess. Even with its few standout performances, it lacks in substance and coherency, even without how much of a letdown several of the performances were. Hopefully everyone involved can move on to bigger and better projects, because after this mess, they should all be worried, darling.

Overall Grade: D

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