The Reel Review
Florence Pugh stars in this psychological thriller from actress/director Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) about the housewife of a 1950s-era, Manhattan Project-type employee. Following the emotional breakdown of another housewife, she starts to notice subtle clues that nothing in her utopian desert community is quite as it seems.
Pugh gives another stellar performance as the increasingly wary and bewildered Stepford Wife, set to a sumptuous period desert backdrop awash in vibrant color, trippy visual imagery and dizzying, extreme close-up camerawork. Also excellent – Wilde, both as director and as quick-witted best friend Bunny, and Chris Pine as the creepy leader of the mysterious cult-like organization. Even relative acting newbie Harry Styles (Dunkirk) surprisingly holds his own as our protagonist’s husband. His fans will be shocked to see a different side of him.
The film’s big, third act twist is a fun one – a thought-provoking homage to the late Stanley Kubrick in the style of A Clockwork Orange. Although it contains some gaping plot holes and dubious logic, none of that really matters, as the story itself is so riveting it will have you dissecting the ambiguous symbolism of what you just witnessed long after the credits roll – the hallmark of a clever, introspective film.
• The main cast of Don’t Worry Darling had enough drama during and after filming for a movie of its own. Harry Styles replaced Shia LeBeouf, who, depending on the source, either quit or was fired prior to filming. Director Olivia Wilde reportedly feuded with Florence Pugh and split with fiancé Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) for co-star Harry Styles, who was briefly suspected of spitting on Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival.
• Initially Florence Pugh was to play the supporting role of Bunny. Director Olivia Wilde stepped in after she convinced Pugh to play the lead. Her daughter Daisy (one of two with Jason Sudeikis) plays her character’s daughter in the film.
• The hilltop headquarters of the Victory Corporation in the film is actually The Volcano House, a galactic-looking house built in 1968 atop a long dormant volcano in the Mojave Desert near Newberry Springs, California.