Don’t Worry Darling may not be a darling for film critics. But for the average viewer, it does the job. Director Olivia Wilde’s film earned a staggeringly low critic score of 39 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Though this movie was initially one of my most anticipated of the year, I was prepared to be disappointed thanks to early unfavourable reviews.
Don’t Worry Darling stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as a married couple living in a utopian society. Following weird events in her seemingly perfect life, Pugh’s character Alice starts questioning the world around her and discovers that perhaps not everything is as it seems.
While the movie had a few shortcomings, including some plot points that were teased but never properly addressed, I feel the film was mostly successful. Pugh is a tour de force in the role, while Gemma Chan and Chris Pine deliver great performances.
The cinematography from Matthew Libatique is a visual feast that fully immerses the viewer into the world of the film, masterfully directed by Wilde.
John Powell’s music score is another bright spot, creating the tension the film so desperately needs.
The end product
Though the beginning suffered from some unfortunate pacing, once the movie gets going, it doesn’t drag. The viewer is engaged all film long.
The worst part is undoubtedly Styles’s wooden performance, which deteriorated as the film progressed. There were multiple times throughout the showing I attended when the fully-packed theatre erupted into laughter at Styles’s delivery.
That said, I think the low critical scores are underserved. If it hadn’t been for the drama and infamy surrounding the film, it might not have been so poorly received.
In July, the movie sparked discussion across multiple social media platforms, but not for the right reasons.
Rumours began to spread of drama on the set, specifically between director Wilde and star Pugh. While Wilde and the rest of the cast were sharing promotional content for the film, Pugh abstained. She instead chose to post about her upcoming movie Oppenheimer, though its release isn’t until summer 2023.
Fans began to speculate when Vulture reported a “screaming match” took place between Wilde and Pugh, allegedly caused by the former shirking her directorial duties to spend time with boyfriend Styles. The source, kept anonymous, claimed, “Olivia and Harry would just disappear.”
In response to this claim, People released a statement from 40 members of Don’t Worry Darling’s crew and production team which said, “any allegations about unprofessional behaviour on the set of Don’t Worry Darling are completely false.”
But wait, there’s more. Wilde did an interview with Variety and claimed the movie’s original leading man, Shia LaBeouf, was fired because she didn’t think Pugh would feel comfortable shooting vulnerable scenes with him. Wilde stated her priority was “making her [Pugh] feel safe and supported.”
LaBeouf has been accused of sexual assault in the past. Following the interview, LaBeouf told Variety that he was not fired from the film, but quit because he and the actors “couldn’t find time to rehearse.” Seemingly validating his claim, a video sent to LaBeouf from Wilde was leaked, showing Wilde pleading with him to stay on the film after he’d allegedly quit.
Don’t Worry Darling premiered at the Venice Film Festival to mixed reviews and tense interactions between its cast members. Pugh seemingly refused to make eye contact with Wilde and a video allegedly showing Styles spitting on fellow cast member Pine went viral, leading to much debate on social media.
When asked if she’d heard of the drama surrounding the movie, and if it impacted her desire to see it, Dalhousie University student Lauren Pangman said she was aware of some of it.
“I feel like there’s definitely some stigma around it, but I would probably go see it anyway just cause everyone is talking about it,” said Pangman.
“Knowing the drama makes me feel more excited to see how this movie actually is,” said University of King’s College student Maria Meagher. “[Especially] after learning of all the shit happening [behind] the scenes.”
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