Darling, I AM worried!

MacKenzie Peterson

Spoilers ahead!  

Put down your martini glass, keep calm and carry on. The 2022 film “Don’t Worry, Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde, premiered on Sept. 23. I was lucky enough to watch the last showing at The Majestic Theater in Wayne.  

The film, which is primarily set in California in what seems to be the late 1950s, uses remarkable production design, dramatic staging and narrative intricacies to poison its own authenticity and make the action eerie, unsettling and cryptic.  

The movie’s self-deprecating undertones and huge dramatic reveal also serve a broader purpose: by illustrating tyranny in an out-of-synch, past-tense America, it draws attention to the political illnesses that exist in the nation now. This is what “Don’t Worry, Darling” does, and it does it cleverly and with a focused sensation on rage. 

One of the women residing in Victory, a planned city built in an isolated area of a California desert, is Alice Chambers, portrayed by Florence Pugh. Her husband Jack (Harry Styles), like the husbands of all the women she knows, works for the Victory Project. This project appears to be involved in defense and which, like the town itself, was developed and is managed by a sunny, affable man named Frank (Chris Pine).  

But something does not seem right, starting with the terrifying uniformity of the village.  Jack and the other men, including Dean (Nick Kroll) and Pete (Asif Ali), leave their driveways at the same time every morning at the cul-de-sac where the Chambers and their neighbors live. Their wives, Alice, Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and Peg (Kate Berlant), also leave at the same time. The men then flow into the desert with other cars of other men traveling to the same workplace, somewhere among the nearby mountains. 

Women do not drive or work. Instead, they are provided use of a trolley called the “Victory Bus Link,” adorned with messages urging its users to keep their affairs private, “What you hear here… let it stay here.”  It transports them all to a ballet class taught by Shelley, Frank’s wife (Gemma Chan), who utters reassuring tropes about “control,” “symmetry” and “order.” Alice spends part of her day at home listening to a radio that drones with a male announcer’s voice promising to “protect” listeners and promoting their “sacrifice” and “loyalty.” 

It is evident in this society women are ‘happy’ to be subservient to their husbands. Doting on them the second they walk through the door, hanging off them every second they can and accepting any sexual advances regardless of the time or place. 

A 1950’s man’s dream, right? The façade that is first established quickly starts to crack as we witness Alice having disturbing nightmares and flashbacks that result in strange and violent behavior. From cracking hollow eggs to wrapping her head in plastic cling wrap, her reality begins crashing.  

As the plot unravels, we find out that Alice is not actually a housewife in the 1950’s, but a sedated women who is unknowingly tied to a bed and forced into some sort of virtual reality in a grimy apartment bedroom.  

We see a disheveled version of Jack rather than the charming, well-groomed Jack we have previously seen. He has unclean hair, a patchy beard, tiny rectangle glasses and, of course, a resentment towards his girlfriend for not wanting to have sex with him right away after she finished a 30-hour shift as a surgeon. 

I think it is fair to say that he is quite incel-like. Instead of putting in the work to make his relationship better developed, for him it was easier to knock out his girlfriend and play pretend all day. So, that is exactly what he does. We see Jack listening to a podcast (of course) called The Victory Project. A project where you can be whoever you want to be and live the fantasy you want to live.  

Although Director Olivia Wilde garnered some criticism, her approach to female pleasure caught people’s attention. She admitted in an interview with Variety magazine, “Men don’t come in this film, only women here.”  

Wilde chose to leave a sex scene in the preview, possibly deemed to be empowering due to the nature of the position, when in reality, this woman was being forced into sex by her captor.  

There is also a part where when Jack was signing up for this simulation, it asks if the two have a previous relationship, insinuating that you could do this with anyone. A man could find a random woman off the street, tie her to the bed and force her to have this life with him. There may even be a chance she would never find out, gross.  

This is basically just a retelling of The Matrix. All the odd scenes boil down to her simulation glitching. This is another movie marketed as a feminist-survival, empowering movie where she will dismantle the situation, but it fell short of its intended purpose.  

She kills Jack in the simulation, and he dies in real life. She ends up getting away and exiting the game. Franks wife then kills him and basically says it is her world now? With a few rewrites, some cuts throughout the movie and more explanation on Marget’s character, this would be a much better movie.  

Too many questions have been left unanswered, and not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained and enjoyed the movie. But, it could have been done better.