When first announced, Don’t worry darling, seemed like the perfect project to take actress-turned-director Olivia Wilde’s career to the next level. A hot script, top stars – what better way to capitalize on the buzz of his hilarious debut feature Library ?
And now here we are, Wilde inaugurated The late show to limit the damage after rumors and stories of behind-the-scenes drama followed the film like a pack of paparazzi.
No, Harry Styles didn’t spit on Chris Pine, she told host Stephen Colbert.
Yes, she had to replace Shia LaBeouf, who was originally cast as the lead with Florence Pugh.
Wilde has been put in the hot seat over numerous stories, including competing accounts of why LaBeouf was replaced by pop star Harry Styles, and questions about why Pugh apparently stopped promoting the film. and parted ways with the director on the red carpet in Venice. International Film Festival.
But as Wilde herself suggested to Colbert, there is a hypocrisy at the heart of the emphasis on production. « I don’t feel like my fellow male directors answer questions about their cast, » Wilde said.
There’s also more than a whiff of misogyny in the idea that Wilde’s set was particularly chaotic. It is not uncommon for directors to change actors. But the question of what we see and the assumptions we willingly believe are at the heart of his new film.
don’t worry darling opens into a 1950s desert cul-de-sac. In a perfectly timed suburban setting, all the women cook breakfasts for their husbands, then rush down the aisle in heels to kiss the men goodbye. Most in love are Jack and Alice, the young married couple played by Styles and Pugh.
And where do the men go every day? They call it the Victory Project – a mysterious instillation hidden in the desert where Frank, the leader played by Pine, motivates men and applauds wives for their dedicated service.
While Styles made headlines, don’t worry darling is undoubtedly Pugh’s film, with the singer turned actor for the ride. At first, we see her going through her days. Cooking and cleaning. Shopping and relaxation. Although soon his perfect existence begins to crack, with empty eggs eerily falling apart in his hands. A neighbor she calls a friend (although we never see a connection) has depression which is considered an accident. Haunted by strange flashbacks, Alice begins to suspect that something sinister is at the heart of this American Dream.
But you can’t blame Pugh, or « Miss Flo » as Wilde once called her. The script may be superficial, the plot predictable, but it gives everything, especially as reality begins to fracture. At best, Pugh has tenacity, an unwavering determination that was first glimpsed in the fantastic 2016 film Lady Macbeth.
What she’s working against is a film that presumes instead of really convincing us. We’re supposed to believe her devotion to Jack is the reason she happily works from home. Yes, we watch beautiful young people do adult things with each other. But love is about more than being turned on and there’s not much here to cement the relationship that’s been sold to us.
As a husband, Styles is aggressively adequate and fulfills his function. More interesting is the Svengali in polo, Pine, as dear leader Frank. As Big Brother meets Tony Robbins, he’s on TV and radio whispering to his bandmates with that tenor Captain Kirk, « There’s a beauty that’s in control. »
The control he speaks of is the freedom women have sacrificed to fuel this fantasy, offering their husbands sex and food with a smile.
In interviews, Wilde has actually suggested that Canadian author Jordan Peterson was the inspiration for Frank and his archaic worldview.
Once revealed, there is a truly disturbing idea at the heart of don’t worry darlingbut neither Wilde nor his writers are interested in wrestling with the implications.
Rather than really committing to it, don’t worry darling dances around the edges, missing the chance to make this 1950s thriller something more urgent. Instead, as the scales fall from Alice’s eyes, logic is sacrificed for superficial thrills and spills. The result, a cleverly wrapped story disguising a missed opportunity.