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Living In A Daydream – ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Is More Style Than Substance

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

Florence Pugh is superb in Olivia Wilde’s, ‘Don’t Worry Darling’, with the unpredictability of this psychological thriller perfectly complementing the stunning visuals and leitmotifs. The design of this film is phenomenal, and this is perhaps what leaves the audience wanting more in terms of the slightly empty narrative. Harry Styles is still learning his craft (although he did a good job!) and with that, it seems there was more style than substance.

The film is a visual triumph and breathtakingly beautiful. There is a daydream-like colour palette of rich golds and fairy-tale blues topped with flushes of pink that epitomise 1950s suburbia and submerge the film in the flawless perfection of Palm Springs and Californian utopia. The desert backdrop hints at an element of the unknown but most notably helps illustrate the town of Victory as secluded – reserved only for the best. The set is stunning and Olivia Wilde did an excellent job in executing her vision. The 50s beehive, cocktail dresses, tailored suits and sequence of Chevy Bel Airs make the film one of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of visuals. Everything is almost too glossy and picturesque as if the dazzling heights of the American Dream are not as they first appeared. 

In the idyllic town of Victory, Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) lives with her husband Jack (Harry Styles) in suburban bliss, until Alice notices faults in her seemingly perfect life. It is believed that she is going insane but instead she is beginning to uncover the truth about this daydream-like reality. The narrative of the film is constantly moving forward and provides entertainment throughout. The twists and turns were shocking and I sat in complete disbelief. The recurring motifs and chilling soundtrack uphold the suspense whilst reinforcing the faux order that surrounds the town of Victory. The repetition of cracking eggs into a pan and pouring coffee to illustrate how life is continuing as normal whilst Alice’s psychological state is deteriorating was executed superbly and one of my favourite cinematic moments.

There are a few plot holes and inconsistencies, although this may have been intentional to intensify the suspense. Even if this is the case, it is obvious that visual excellence prevails over a rushed narrative. Harry isn’t bad but he isn’t amazing and in some of the more intense scenes you can’t help but laugh at his strong accent and sad puppy face. However, he did well and didn’t detract from the film. I think being opposite Flo showed him up a little bit, as she captured the very essence of Alice perfectly and this really highlighted his lack of expertise. Miss Flo was faultless and, even though the drama surrounding the release of this film was centred on Olivia Wilde’s relationship with Harry Styles, spit-gate at the Venice Film Festival and a falling out between the director and her lead, it is really Florence Pugh who carries this movie, and it is her performance that we should be focusing on. 

The message of this film is inherently feminist, yet this could have been explored further. Basic gender inequality is highlighted as the women in the film are housewives who spend their time cooking, cleaning and spending their husband’s money as well as being ready for sex whenever. It was made clear that the men feared an independent working woman and craved control with chaos being deemed the end of everything – hence why the world fell apart when Alice took back control. Furthermore, Jack entered himself and his wife into the Victory Project without her consent, again illustrating patriarchal dominance. The feminist backdrop was clear but, in my opinion, far from profound and definitely seen before. 

Ultimately, ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is worth the watch. Don’t let the unsavoury press surrounding the film or Harry Styles being a lead put you off. Olivia Wilde did well but it was Miss Flo who ran the show and I think everyone needs to see her acting brilliance combined with the stunning visuals, even if the narrative is arguably a little empty. 

Hi, I'm a third year politics and international relations student who loves all things style and sustainable fashion as well as not taking life too seriously!