When it was first announced, don’t worry darling, seemed like the ideal project to take Olivia Wilde’s career as an actor and director to the next level. A hot script, A-list stars – what better way to build on the buzz of her hilarious feature debut Smart book?
And now we are here, Wilde ushered in The late show to mitigate damage after rumors and stories of behind-the-scenes drama followed the film like a pack of paparazzi.
No, Harry Styles didn’t spit on Chris Pine, she told host Stephen Colbert.
Yes, she was supposed to replace Shia LaBeouf, who originally starred in Florence Pugh.
Wilde has been briefed on many stories, including competing tales about why LaBeouf was replaced by pop star Harry Styles, and questions about why Pugh seemingly stopped promoting the film and isolated himself from the director on the Venice International red carpet. film festival.
But as Wilde himself suggested to Colbert, there’s a hypocrisy at the heart of the production’s focus. “I don’t feel like my male directing colleagues are answering questions about their cast,” Wilde said.
There’s also more than a hint of misogyny in the idea that Wilde’s set was particularly chaotic. It’s not uncommon for directors to switch actors. But the question of what we see and the assumptions we readily believe are at the heart of her new film.
don’t worry baby opens in a 50’s dead end in the desert. In a perfectly synchronized suburb, all the women make breakfast for their husbands, then stagger into the driveway in heels to kiss the men goodbye. The most in love of them all are Jack and Alice, the young married couple played by Styles and Pugh.
And where do the men go every day? They call it the Victory Project – a mysterious instillation hidden in the desert where Frank, the leader played by Pine, motivates the men and applauds the women for their dutiful service.
While Styles has occupied the headlines, don’t worry baby is undoubtedly Pugh’s film, with the singer turned actor before the ride. In the beginning, we see her glide through her days. Cooking and cleaning. Shopping and lounging. Soon, her ravishing existence begins to crack, with empty eggs crumbling strangely in her hands. A neighbor she calls a friend (although we never see a connection) has a breakdown that is dismissed as an accident. Haunted by strange flashbacks, Alice begins to suspect that something sinister is at the root of this American dream.
But you can’t blame Pugh, or “Miss Flo” as Wilde once called her. The script may be superficial, the plot predictable, but she gives it her all, especially as reality begins to break. At best, there’s a tenacity to Pugh, a steely determination first seen in the fantastic 2016 film Lady Macbeth.
What she’s working against is a film that presupposes rather than really convinces us. We are meant to believe that her devotion to Jack is the reason she toils so happily at home. Yes, we see how the young beautiful people do mature things with and for each other. But love is more than being horny and there is little here to cement the relationship that was sold to us.
As a husband, Styles is aggressively adequate and fulfills his function. More interesting is the Svengali in the polo shirt, Pine, as the beloved leader Frank. As Big Brother meets Tony Robbins, on every television and radio he whispers to his followers with that Captain Kirk tenor, “There’s a beauty in control.”
The control he’s talking about is the freedom the women have sacrificed to fuel this fantasy, providing their husbands with sex and food with a smile.
In interviews, Wilde has even suggested that Canadian author Jordan Peterson was the inspiration for Frank and his archaic worldview.
Once revealed, there is a really disturbing idea at the heart of don’t worry babybut neither Wilde nor her writers are interested in wrestling with its implications.
Instead of really getting into it, don’t worry baby dances around the edges and misses the opportunity to turn this fifties thriller into something more urgent. Instead, as the scales fall from Alice’s eyes, logic is sacrificed for superficial tension and thrill. The result, a slickly packaged story that conceals a missed opportunity.