Lovely, but Lacking

Despite its star-studded cast and beautiful aesthetics, “Don’t Worry Darling” fails to live up to its expectations and convey a meaningful message.


Movie poster via Warner Bros. Discovery and IMAX

Olivia Wilde, if I could just correct you—there is, in fact, much cause for worry, darling. 

The highly anticipated “Don’t Worry Darling,” starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles released in the United States on Thursday, Sept. 23, making $19.2 million in ticket sales and debuting at #1 at the box office.

Whether dedicated Harry Styles stans, Wilde film enthusiasts, or those interested after the unfolding of drama between the cast and crew at the Venice film festival, audiences and critics flocked to theaters this weekend. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 33%, most were quick to voice their disappointment in the movie, and I have to say, I agree with the masses on this one. 

“Don’t Worry Darling” follows Alice (Pugh) through the tumultuous realization that things are not as they seem in the 60’s-esque desert town of Victory. Her husband, Jack (Styles), leaves every morning in unnervingly identical fashion with all the other men in town to work “for the project,” driving straight into the desert towards a mysterious mountain—the only place the women of Victory are absolutely forbidden to go. 

The women spend their days pursuing perfect symmetry and elegance in ballet classes led by Shelley, who is married to Frank, the founder of the mysterious project that provides that rigid shape to Victory. However, this seemingly perfect facade starts to crack after the breakdown of her former friend, Margaret. She is ostracized after trying to walk to the mountain in the desert, which kills her son in the process. After Alice witnesses Margaret’s suicide, she starts to notice the same strange occurrences and visions that Margaret did, but is told by Frank and Jack that they are just the hallucinations of a stressed mind.

It is revealed that Alice’s entire life in Victory is nothing more than a simulation—a type of virtual reality. In the real world, Jack sedated Alice and forced her into the simulation when their relationship suffered after Jack lost his job. All the men and their wives who live in Victory forced the women in the same way Jack forced Alice, and they tend to their real life responsibilities when they “go to work” during the day.

This movie is deceiving. The cinematography, location, color theory, and costume design all lend to a perfect 1960’s aesthetic. The sunny, cleancut, mid century modern accents create a beauty that juxtaposes with the unsettling visions and moments of breakage in the perfection that lend to the austere tone of the movie. 

However, the plot is severely lacking. It’s full of holes and questionable sets of dialogue that after the initial amazement at the aesthetics of the movie, leaves the audience wondering, “What did literally any of that mean?” 

Its strictness could be forgivable if it lent to real commentary about the themes it introduces throughout the film. Even though the design was incredibly stunning, the movie is too scared to have a real statement about anything. There were countless opportunities to add a politically charged undertone about women’s role in the home and their domestic servitude in the 60’s compared to their modern day role in the workplace, but there was no commentary, only performative visual themes that give the illusion it has something more to say.