The Show Must Go On: Don’t Worry Darling Prevails Through Controversy and Critics

Michelle Smith, Sports Editor

Don’t Worry Darling, one of the most anticipated films of 2022, has hit theaters and far exceeds expectations. The movie stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as main characters Jack and Alice Chambers with stars like Chris Pine and Nick Kroll in supporting roles. From the beginning, Don’t Worry Darling was expected to flop. The question of the acting skills of an international pop star was looming over the heads of movie goers and music listeners alike. On top of the question of Styles’ acting skill, tabloids were constantly printing stories surrounding drama on set. Director Olivia Wilde faced controversy over everything from squabbles between actors on set to the firing of actors like Shia LeBouf from lead roles. Wildes’ ill-received relationship with Styles seemed to get more press coverage than the making of the film which started production in October 2020, the same time the relationship began. Despite the odds of a film doomed by tabloids, Don’t Worry Darling has been a box office success, bringing in $19.2 million in its opening weekend and over $70 million worldwide by its third week in theaters. 

The film follows Styles and Pugh’s characters as they live a domestic life in Victory, an experimental company town in the 1950’s where the husbands go to work on top-secret projects and the wives stay home to cook, clean, and enjoy their seemingly perfect lives. When Pugh’s character Alice starts noticing flaws in her supposed paradise, she searches for answers and finds out the harsh truth of her life in Victory. As the movie progresses, the audience sees Alice become more skeptical of Frank, the CEO of the company and founder of their town, played by Chris Pine, until, finally, the truth is uncovered in a beautiful crescendo of a climax and the movie closes with a melancholy and unsettling ending. 

The audience reception of Don’t Worry Darling has been mostly positive, landing a 75% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but critics disagree, scoring the film at a mere 38%. Critics write that Wilde’s approach at fulfilling her vision is “superficial” and “not revealing or thoughtful.” Louisa Moore of Screen Zealots says “The script lacks grace and polish, one star’s questionable acting skills is amplified by the other lead’s performance, and Olivia Wilde‘s direction is noticeably weak.” Other critics word their brutally honest reviews bitterly short as is seen in Should I See It?’s Michael Ward’s review, saying “For better, or perhaps for worse, we’ll be talking about this thing for years to come.” 

In the slew of negative critic reviews are some positive, promising reports. Susan Kamyab of Irving Television says “’Don’t Worry Darling’ serves its purpose as a thrilling, mystery drama. It’s not the best film of the year, but you can have fun with it.” The audience reviews didn’t go easy on the film either, but a few of the more positive comments say something along the lines of the review, stating “Slow start but worth the wait! Very suspenseful and great visuals! Pugh deserves an Oscar for her performance!” Unfortunately, as with many things, the positive reviews get lost in the negativity and hate.

Despite the fact that the film was seemingly destined to fail, and some critics are trying to ensure that fate, Don’t Worry Darling was overall well received and well made. Sure, the skill of one actor may fall short compared to their co-star, but that is not rare or unexpected when comparing an actor in their first lead role to their award winning co-star. Where acting was lacking, visuals and suspense made up for it. Where visuals lacked and the plot ebbed, exceptional acting grabbed the attention of the audience back to the screen. Don’t Worry Darling is by no means the movie of the year, but the film is undeniable as a bright spot in Olivia Wilde’s career.