Local student Brady Burkett shares his reviews of upcoming movies showing at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach. Here is his review of Don’t Worry Darling.
By BRADY BURKETT
Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart is one of my new favourite comedies of all time. It’s excellently directed, edited, acted, and written, and is easily one of the best directorial debuts I’ve had the pleasure of sitting through. Thus, I was incredibly excited to see how her body of work would continue, and how she would follow up such an excellent first film. She very clearly knew what she was doing behind the camera, so what could possibly go wrong?
Well, just about everything, at least behind the scenes. The troubled production of Don’t Worry Darling has been more than well documented, and so there isn’t much insight that I could provide that you reading this are not already familiar with. To make a long story short, Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles apparently acted unprofessionally affectionate towards each other on-set, causing Florence Pugh and almost everyone else involved to be deeply uncomfortable and tense.
There’s much more, but this is a review of the movie that was made as a result of it. It’s impossible to talk about this movie without discussing the behind-the-scenes drama of it, but I have not let it affect my rating and opinion of the movie at all.
So, with all of that out of the way, and the drama surrounding it aside, is Don’t Worry Darling actually a good movie? Well… I think Harry Styles said it best during promotion: “Y’know, my favourite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a, like a movie.”
Don’t Worry Darling is a horror mystery thriller, telling the story of Alice and Jack, played by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, a couple living in a 1950s utopia called Victory, run by a man played by Chris Pine, who could not be more obviously the villain if he had a moustache to twirl and a monocle.
Alice soon realizes that nothing is as it seems in Victory, and attempts to discover what’s really going on. It’s not the most original concept in the world, but people can still tell well-worn stories in innovative ways as long as they have original ideas. Unfortunately, Don’t Worry Darling hardly brings anything new to this faded, dusty table.
To start, Florence Pugh and Harry Styles unfortunately lack any sort of real chemistry with one another. You do not feel their attraction to one another whatsoever, and it makes the film’s gratuitously long sex scenes simultaneously awkward and almost funny. I point this out specifically because Florence Pugh otherwise does an absolutely amazing job. It’s not the best performance I’ve seen this year (the entire main cast of Everything Everywhere All at Once have her beat at varying levels), but she understands the tone of the film completely and sells every moment of Alice’s paranoia.
The rest of the performances vary in quality. Chris Pine is in the movie very little, but he does excellently with the time that he’s given, and the rest of the performances are generally “fine”, with two exceptions.
Harry Styles delivers his lines fine, but he doesn’t really emote properly, and when he does it’s so over the top that it’s cringeworthy. And KiKi Layne, who is supposed to be playing the hysterical, paranoid wife that nobody believes, sounds hilariously bored during all of her lines.
In terms of the script, it’s an absolute mess. There are some interesting ideas and concepts sprinkled throughout that end up completely buried by how messy the entire thing is. It’s a first draft on every level, from the godawful pacing that makes it feel like nothing is happening for almost the entire middle chunk of the story to the final twist. Without getting into spoilers, although it is sufficiently pretty surprising, it explains very little and ultimately makes no logical sense with almost anything else going on once you think about it.
On top of this, so much of the movie feels like it desperately wants to really say something about sexism and societal prejudice against women, but the film oddly focuses on this extremely little, and when it does, it’s only on the most surface of levels.
The ultimate takeaway from the message is that women deserve rights and agency, which is not as revolutionary a concept in the Year of our Lord 2022 without digging much deeper than this film does.
So, is there any saving grace to what appears to for the most part be an absolute dumpster fire? In fact, yes, there very much is.
The direction and cinematography are absolutely magnificent. Olivia Wilde knows how to direct a movie properly, and it’s done absolutely wonderfully. It manages to make this clean, bright 50s utopia feel uniquely disorienting and nauseating, without ever sacrificing the overall aesthetic. There were so many absolutely brilliantly done shots here that the cinematography feels legitimately wasted on such a lacklustre script.
Overall, Don’t Worry Darling isn’t… bad. It’s not the worst thing in the world. It has beautiful cinematography and expert direction, propped up by an amazing lead performance. The only real problem is the unoriginal, vapid, uneven, and inconsistent screenplay that drags the entire experience down.
It isn’t terrible, but with so many great movies coming out this year, you would not be missing out on much if you opted out of this one.
I rate it 5 out of 10.
Don’t Worry Darling is scheduled to play the Fox Theatre, 2236 Queen St. E., on the afternoon of Nov. 11 and Nov. 15; and on the night of Nov. 16. For more information on upcoming films playing at the Fox, please visit https://www.foxtheatre.ca
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brady Burkett is a local resident and high school student. The opinions in the reviews are his, and the reviews are not sponsored or vetted by the Fox Theatre.
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