Photographic portraits on display at the Ransom Center show some of the best-known literary figures in their own personal surroundings, offering insight into their daily lives.

Opportunities for female directors have only increased in recent years, a development that has taken too long to occur. One of the beneficiaries of this sea change is Olivia Wilde, who made her directorial debut with the well-received films of 2019. Library. Now she’s back with her highly anticipated second film (for various reasons), don’t worry darling.

The film stars Florence Pugh as Alice Chambers, who lives in a small, utopian desert town with her husband, Jack (Harry Styles), who works for a company called Victory. The town has all the trappings of an idyllic version of the 1950s, from the style of the houses to the cars to the way the wives adore their husbands. But right away, it’s clear there’s something wrong with the town, especially since everyone seems to view company boss Frank (Chris Pine) as some sort of infallible person. .

Olivia Wilde and Nick Kroll in Don’t Worry Darling

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Alice begins to feel the cracks in the city’s veneer and gradually tests the boundaries everyone faithfully adheres to. Her suspicions only deepen when another wife goes missing, and anyone she chooses to confide in tricks her into thinking she’s losing her mind. Trying to figure out what’s real or not drives her to do a lot of things that threaten the whole town’s way of life.

Collaborate again with Library writer Katie Silberman, Wilde crafts a mysterious, tension-filled film that’s about as far removed from the revelry of her earlier film as it gets. There are times when the story starts to get too enigmatic for its own good, but Wilde seems to know exactly when to add a new layer to keep viewers interested in where the story takes them next.

Wilde and Silberman also continue to explore gender politics through this well-told allegory. The actions of Alice and the other women (including Wilde, Gemma Chan, Kiki Layne, Kate Berlant and others) come across as Stepford Wives-ish, but they also act incompatible with people who have been brainwashed. When the secrets finally begin to be revealed, the story takes on a deeper meaning of male insecurity and female empowerment.

Chris Pine in Don't Worry Darling
Chris Pine in Don’t Worry Darling

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The technical team behind the scenes contributes greatly to the atmosphere of the film. Katie Byron’s production design is impeccable, and she and the desert landscape are shot extremely well by cinematographer Matthew Libatique. John Powell’s score, which uses unconventional sounds and vocals to create music that elevates every scene it’s attached to, particularly stands out.

Pugh has already been a star for several years and she once again shows why she is held in such high regard. She brings just the right level of angst, confusion, and anger to her character’s development, which makes her compelling throughout. Styles performs well in his biggest role yet, never pretending to be just a singer pretending to be an actor. Pine is also excellent as the creepy but charismatic Frank, demonstrating the skills that every good cult leader needs.

don’t worry darling contains a lot more than it shows on the surface, making it an excellent second film for the talented Wilde. With a proven ability to transition between genres effortlessly, she should have a lot more storytelling opportunities on the big screen.

don’t worry darling hits theaters September 23.


Don’t Worry Honey | official trailer

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Michael E. Marquez