Don't Worry Darling (2022)
September 23, 2022 7:11 AM - Subscribe

Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can't help questioning exactly what they're doing in Victory, and why.

Also starring Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Kiki Layne, Nick Kroll, and Olivia Wilde.

Directed by Olivia Wilde from a script credited to Katie Silberman.

Currently at 36% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now playing in theaters. JustWatch listing, for posterity.
posted by DirtyOldTown (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

When I first heard about this I added it to my "I want to watch it" list. Now I realize that the only reason I still want to watch is that I want to know what the hell the story is and I would be content if someone just spoiled it for me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on September 23, 2022 [3 favorites]

Have to say that from a technical standpoint, this movie is pretty fantastic. Amazing production and costume design, and Matthew Libatique's cinematography is unsurprisingly excellent. Florence Pugh and Chris Pine are great, and most of the rest of the cast handles their small roles well. Harry Styles... has a fair amount of screen time, so good for him! The story is impressively disastrous.

If you're an adult who has consumed books, movies, TV shows, etc. for many years this is likely going to inspire deep eye-rolling. However, thanks to Harry Styles being in it, I bet a fair number of unsuspecting younger viewers are probably going have their minds blown. Think of it like "My First Puzzle Box Movie." It's going to be a good jumping-off point for those people to dig into better, weirder, more interesting, and smarter stuff. But it's always going to have a special place in their hearts. It's a solid production, and it was a treat to see the eye candy and get wrecked by the gut-shaking bass in a Dolby theater. It does 100% drive into a ditch, and then somehow off a cliff, but I was never bored by it. It just wasn't made for me, and that's totally fine!
posted by tomorrowromance at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2022 [15 favorites]

Yeah, I had no interest in seeing it (still don't) because I figure anything Stepford is gonna give me the heebie-jeebies, but if you really want to know, this link tells a lot. I certainly want to read spoilers, anyway, plus I continue to enjoy the behind the scenes drama on the blue.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Now that we're further down the page and it won't count as threadshitting my own post, let me just tell you I was very close to starting with: "Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (a sentient haircut) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory..."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:38 PM on September 23, 2022 [8 favorites]

I haven't seen this yet, but my fear has been that The Discourse around this movie has been poisoned for at least 5 years by all of the behind-the-scenes drama and entertainment news. Perhaps it can never really be untangled.

tomorrowromance, are you saying that Don't Worry Darling is this generation's Donnie Darko or is that too generous?
posted by forbiddencabinet at 4:04 PM on September 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought the cinematography and sound editing were excellent. I kind of knew where it was going the whole time, but I enjoyed the ride.

One set piece is basically "What it Mad Max but classic cars?" That was kind of fun. That said, it has... a few of those "stare at reflection then smash face in to the mirror" shots that have been done to death.

Harry Styles fans in the theater giggled a lot about some makeup and wardrobe choices at one point.
posted by emelenjr at 10:44 PM on September 23, 2022

Washington Post article that really spoils the ending.

I dunno, this is kind of where I suspected it was going, actually.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:58 AM on September 24, 2022

My 14 year-old daughter is begging to see this because omg harry styles and hey, Olivia, thanks for the R rating. So my choices are to tell her to wait for streaming where I can skip the sex scenes, or sit with her in the theatre and grit my teeth. And I'm really not in the mood to sit through this.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2022

Being reclusive, I remain blissfully unaware of any behind the scenes drama. Tomorrowromance nailed it above with the Baby's First Puzzle Box Movie comment. I felt like the movie's pitch was basically, "What if Stepford Wives meets The Matrix, but stretch the first act to feature length and end the movie when Neo wakes up in his goo pod?"

So much of the movie felt like it was treading water until the big reveal, and the big reveal turns out to be a stale cyberpunk trope with some Jordan Peterson sprinkled in. If you're on the fence, don't bother, darlings.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 6:40 PM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

Well the kid saw it last night with her friend and gave it "1000 stars out of 10".

So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:42 AM on September 25, 2022 [8 favorites]

Well the kid saw it last night with her friend and gave it "1000 stars out of 10".

You know what? That's awesome. I love having that kind of experience at the movies, and I'm glad someone did.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 7:30 AM on September 25, 2022 [12 favorites]

tomorrowromance, are you saying that Don't Worry Darling is this generation's Donnie Darko or is that too generous?

I think that's not too far off as far as how many younger viewers might see this at exactly the right time in their development of cinematic interests, but the movie is much less opaque than Donnie Darko. I can't see much in the way of discussion about what happened in DWD as it's all laid out fairly plainly.
posted by tomorrowromance at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

We finally saw this. It really does kind of sabotage itself in the last act, doesn't it. I was expecting something a little more compelling than Dollar Store Matrix--like something at least Shyamalan-esque Village level.

I got questions.

- Did no one miss Alice, a surgeon regularly working day-long shifts? (I'm told an early draft includes mention of the men faking their wives' deaths in the real world. Seems like something they should have kept in.)

- What kind of job did Jack, who was apparently chronically unemployed, find that let him keep up the house and his plugged-into-the-simulation wife even after the loss of her income?

- What was the end game for Frank's big simulation project? It's not like you can live there permanently, and meanwhile you still need to work in the real world while taking care of a comatose person that you've kidnapped and drugged. That's going to be awkward if you need to, say, have a plumber in.

- What was the deal with the airplane? The earthquakes? Jack's promotion? Any of that?

- Who were the guys in the red jumpsuits? The trolley driver? The waiters and musicians at the club? Are they simulated, or is there some kind of tiered membership where at, like, the bronze level you only get to be a jumpsuit guy?

- Why would you design a simulation that's meant to entrap an entire population segment permanently and then not put in any safeguards to keep them from using the exit beyond "KEEP OUT" signs? The first thing I'd do (if I were Evil Chris Pine) is put in a "Do not let the following people exit the simulation" list.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2022 [10 favorites]

I was disappointed they didn’t subvert the “dying in virtual worlds makes your real body die” trope.
posted by gubo at 6:49 PM on October 25, 2022

Yeah, but if you don't do that, then who cares if you kill someone in a simulation?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:46 PM on October 25, 2022

This hit HBO Max so I finally saw it.

I thought this was pretty fine. I basically second tomorrowromance's entire review. I also echo Mr. Bad Example's questions.

Some of the thematic underpinnings were very White Liberal Lady. And the third act devolving into a car chase was a real failure of imagination.

Wilde is a pretty tremendously talented filmmaker though. Her hitting at like 70% is still visually and compositionally impressive.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 PM on November 9, 2022

Finally got around to watching this. My partner and I agreed that it was "just okay" as a modern update to a predictable and trope-tastic story with some fine cinematography. Not a great movie, but not annoying bad. And Florence Pugh truly made the most of the material.

The "dying in simulation = dying in real life" thing really made absolutely no fucking sense in this film, though.
posted by desuetude at 7:31 PM on November 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I can't believe this is the thing that I'm focusing on (and the anachronistic hairstyles), but was there some explanation that I missed for the Busby Berkeley imagery, as well as Frank's lavish '30s-themed corporate party? Like someone saying, "Oh, Frank really wishes he lived in the '30s?" Otherwise, I just don't get why all of that is happening in a simulated mid/late '50s world. I know there were way more plot holes than this, but for some reason I can't stop thinking about it (and the hair!).
posted by queensissy at 3:51 PM on November 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

> is there some kind of tiered membership where at, like, the bronze level you only get to be a jumpsuit guy?

There is no cabal
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 10:33 AM on November 22, 2022

Agreed, pretty fine but.

Given simulation setup like that, you're going to get bed sores pretty quick, will start dying without a feeding tube, and even with one you're wasting away from inactivity. wtf wringing a washcloth into her mouth for hydration? Like, an intravenous saline bag instead?

Then a catheter on the elimination end.

Did dig Wilde's character who's in there to live with her virtual children. Wonder if the children will grow up (ie., dynamic programming) or stay eternally young (static software)? Though that's up to whoever's paying for her experience, I guess.
posted by porpoise at 10:16 PM on September 15, 2023

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