‘Don’t Worry Darling’: Olivia Wilde’s Thriller Isn’t Very Exciting

,1.5 stars,

The advance hype for “Don’t Worry Darling” has been so constant—from director Olivia Wilde’s location-on-ship relationship with her lead man, Harry Styles, to her feud with lead actress, Florence Pugh, such as Kabuki, and more recently Chris Pine and Styles inducted at the Venice Film Festival – it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual film at its center. A movie that isn’t a disaster, but isn’t particularly iconic; A film that, in the end, will end up as oblivion as its own bizarre propaganda.

‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ we’ll break all the drama for you

“Don’t Worry Darling” opens at a party in the sumptuously built living room of a 1950s tract home, where Alice Chambers (Pugh) and her husband, Jack (Stiles), indulge in their neighbors’ copious amounts of alcohol, cigarettes and are entertained. Slinky dancing set to Ray Charles’s “Night Time Is the Right Time.” The setting is the anonymous inland community of Victory, California, where Jack and his friends go to work each morning for a top-secret project developing “progressive content.” Their owner, and the man behind the real estate development, is a charismatic alpha male named Frank (Pine), whose radio sermons Alice and the rest of the Victorious homemakers listen to while they cook, clean, and serve the perfect ice. Make cold martinis their breadwinning better halves are ready as soon as they reach home.

It’s all mid-century perfection, an idea that drives home with Wild Zero subtlety, between the aggressively old-fashioned soundtrack and a candy-colored production design that leans heavily into the bright and dazzling conformity of the era. But all is not well in this Unpleasantville, a self-contained bubble where Alice works on a trolley with foreboding signs like “What do you see here, what do you do here, what do you say here, make it stay here.” Give.” She is haunted by strange scenes of a plane crashing and Busby Berkeley dancers forming circles like the iris of one eye; At one of Frank’s parties, he gives a motivational speech about progress, chaos, and changing the world—one that’s less JFK than Jim Jones.

What kind of looking glass Alice is, as in the mystery of “Don’t Worry Darling”, written by Katie Silberman, Kerry Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke, who took clear cues from older classics such as “The Stepford Wives”. . as well as borrowing a dash here from “Second” and “The Parallax View”. More contemporary analogs include “Severance” and “Severance”.go,” both recall Rod Serling being extremely awkward and to the point. “Don’t Worry Darling” teases provocative ideas about gender roles and expectations but never quite achieves the heights of Serling’s suspense and social commentary. Between, Wilde’s direction manages to simultaneously warm and walk, resorting to blunt-force literalism in moments that call for Hitchcockian finesse.

Wilde was going to cast herself as Alice; Instead she plays Bunny, a drinking true believer with a feline gaze and dazzling-knowing streak. (Kate Berlant did her best to speed up the proceedings with effortless humor as the very pregnant Peg.) Luckily, Wilde saw the horror movie “mid summerAnd deciding to use Pugh for a role in which, oozing natural charisma and vanity-free naturalism, she manages to turn a flawed and downright tedious film into something remotely watchable. (For her part , the styles are unflattering but ineffectual, even when Wilde makes them dance like a puppet for no apparent reason.)

“Don’t Worry Darling” turns out to be a doozy of a twist that feels like both a spontaneous and a wasted opportunity. There must have been some good ideas here about ambition and ambition, desire and self-deception. But they become fleeting as a tumbleweed blowing through suburbia by the Santa Ana wind.

R. in cinemas in the area. Contains sexuality, violence and strong language. 122 minutes.

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