“Don’t Worry Darling” (2022) shows promise in concept, but comes up empty in execution

Don’t Worry Darling is an interesting concept for a film, with a strong setup early in the script that fails spectacularly to follow up on the premise. Despite some rather interesting ideas and (some) decent performances, the film is a walking contrivance. It’s hard to see past the pastiche and stylized set designs for anything more meaningful. The nuclear, 1950s suburban household serves the narrative and makes for an unorthodox period piece. Credit to cinematographer Matthew Libatique, always getting the absolute best in terms of color grading, lighting, and composition, giving the film a distinct look and feel. Best element of the filmmaking, frankly.

Questionable Creative Choices

Moreover, the central idea behind the story has interesting avenues to explore, but the writing has a hard time getting the connective tissue to come together with the idea. Many smaller creative decisions were baffling, and watching all these misaligned plot points try and cohesively fit into the same story made for a jumbled mess of tone and structure. There are too many scenes clumsily inserted to make sure a future plot point has relevance later on. It’s an ambitious film, but with too many ideas dragging it in certain directions away from the most interesting aspects.

The pacing in the editing goes both overlong, but also flies through the more pressing moments of the film. None of it feels remotely believable in the slightest. Granted, that’s partially intentional with the nature of the narrative, but it’s more fundamentally flawed in the execution, where character motivations and traits feel so forced to make the pieces fit together. Furthermore, the twist itself only reaffirmed this frustration I had with the story and only made for more head scratching questions.

Exploring Incel Culture

Wilde clearly wanted to make a film about incel culture and how dangerous these lingering ideas are in society, but again, she worked backwards from the idea and the path to the revelation is fraught with far too many conveniences to make it all come together. It was great seeing a degenerate Harry Styles look genuinely ugly and unmaintained, but truthfully, that resolution felt small and insignificant compared to the build up. It wasn’t necessarily expected, but that’s not all a good twist should be about. Don’t Worry Darling makes this grandiose world into something small and pathetic

Florence Pugh not enough to save the film

As for the performances, Pugh acts her ass off, but she goes a bit too far in her exploration. Her character doesn’t organically come to any conclusions herself and magically and clumsily stumbles into big plot points by accident. Pugh tries to balance the cheerie house wife with the undying mystery and goes overboard in her portrayal. Harry Styles is simply awful. He doesn’t add anything noteworthy to this character and his accent fluctuates. Chris Pine is a caricature. It’s like a badly acted and written version of the mad scientist, but is unbelievably transparent in his motivations.

Lastly, the soundtrack and sound mixing were absurdly introduced and so badly mishandled. Most moments of organic tension are undercut by the incessant need to include musical accompaniment to elevate the scene. In all instances, it brings unwanted attention to the audience perfectly capable of reaching that conclusion on their own. It’s frankly obnoxious and another bizarre misstep in the creative choices made with the film

Verdict: Not Weird Enough

There’s elements in here that intrigue me, but ultimately the parts I found to be unorthodox were plainly explained in the plot to be common, boring kidnapping tropes that aren’t weird or different. As much it wants to be unorthodox, it’s far too conventional in its storytelling.


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