One of the most talked about movies of 2022 is already well on its way to becoming one of the year’s biggest hits at the theatre. The main reason for this success is that audiences are intrigued by the mysterious plot of DON’T WORRY DARLING, in which a late 1950s-era housewife (Florence Pugh) gradually becomes overwhelmed with suspicions that the idyllic, isolated community where she and her husband (Harry Styles) now reside is not quite what it seems.
That last sentence alone, essentially, points out everything you already need to know about why Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial effort has been chosen as an AMC Artisan Film, and why it is worth it to witness this socially relevant psychological thriller on the big screen. However, let’s elaborate a little bit more on the three best things about DON’T WORRY DARLING – without giving too much away, of course – starting with praise for its talented leading star.
Florence Pugh’s Commanding Performance
The story of DON’T WORRY DARLING is told from the point of view of a woman questioning the true nature of her reality and being faced with doubt and dismay at every turn. Casting this frighteningly relatable and topically important role with an actor who can embody the situation with ease, all while keeping the audience captivated by her journey throughout, is an absolute necessity. Luckily, DON’T WORRY DARLING was blessed with exactly that when Florence Pugh was cast as Alice Chambers – whose increasingly surreal visions and startling discoveries about her otherwise homey community have us on the edge of our seats.
There is a distinct possibility that the British actor could receive her second Academy Award® nomination – after her Best Supporting Actress nod for 2019’s LITTLE WOMEN – for the way she dominates every ounce of the screen in this film. It calls to mind Pugh’s other astonishing performance from that same year in horror auteur Ari Aster’s sophomore feature, MIDSOMMAR, by how convincingly she invokes a traumatic mix of emotions, while adding a refreshing layer of vigor and will.
The Serene Visuals
Even if DON’T WORRY DARLING does not get any attention from the Academy for Florence Pugh’s performance, it might not hurt to bet on cinematographer Matthew Labatique to get what would be his second Oscar® nomination after 2018’s A STAR IS BORN. There is also a chance that costume designer Arianne Phillips might receive her fourth nod and production designer Katie Byron could become a first-timer at next year’s ceremony. After all, those three are essential for making the film one of the most visually stunning of the year.
Just about every detail of the Victory Project – the utopian community in which the film is set – makes it look exactly like the kind of place that anyone would love to call home, hooking the viewer to the screen with stunning immediacy. It encapsulates virtually everything one might fondly remember – or merely assume – about the late 1950s through early 1960s, from its luxurious architecture to its elegant fashion sense, illuminated before our very eyes by an impossibly brilliant daytime sun. It is all the better when this calming aesthetic evolves into a chilling juxtaposition to the haunting truth lurking underneath.
Olivia Wilde’s Mastery Of Tension
DON’T WORRY DARLING is the kind of film that brings up many questions and plenty of timely, real-world topics to discuss and even debate with fellow moviegoers. However, if there is one takeaway that most can surely agree on, it is that Olivia Wilde has proven herself as one of the most talented directors of her generation with what is only her second feature.
The filmmaker – who also directs herself in the film as one of the Victory Project’s most devoted citizens, Bunny – knocked it out of the park in 2019 with her feature-length debut, BOOKSMART, with an invigoratingly unique blend of sharp, coming-of-age humor with the pacing of an action thriller. DON’T WORRY DARLING marks her first attempt at tackling a truly earnest thriller with deeply unnerving elements of isolation, paranoia and marital distress. The result – as best exemplified in a memorably intense and climactic dinner party sequence – cements Wilde as being more than capable of the craft and invokes a rousing hope and anticipation for more films of this kind in her future.
DON’T WORRY DARLING has many of the elements that movie fans enjoy. It has a stunning, star-studded cast, one of the most exciting directors of her time at the helm, a striking wave of visual nostalgia for the mid-20th century and an intriguing web of real-world themes presented through a surreal, dystopian lens. These are all amazing reasons to take a trip to an AMC theatre for it, as no one should miss out on a film that, as star Harry Styles said at the Venice Film Festival, feels like “the reason why you go to watch something on a big screen.”