Don’t Worry Darling is a 2022 American psychological thriller film directed by Olivia Wilde from a screenplay written by Katie Silberman and based on a story written by Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, and Silberman. The cast includes Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Chris Pine.
Don’t Worry Darling had its world premiere on September 5, 2022, at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, and is set to be released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 23, 2022.
Alice and Jack Chambers are a young, happy couple in the 1950s, living in Victory, California, a seemingly perfect company town built and paid for by the mysterious company Jack works for. Curiosity about the nature of her husband’s work on the secret “Victory Project” consumes Alice, and cracks begin to form in their utopian life as her investigation into the project raises tensions within the community.
- Florence Pugh as Alice Chambers, a young, devoted housewife.
- Harry Styles as Jack Chambers, Alice’s workaholic husband.
- Olivia Wilde as Bunny, Alice’s best friend
- Gemma Chan as Shelley
- KiKi Layne as Margaret
- Nick Kroll as Bill, Bunny’s husband
- Chris Pine as Frank, Shelley’s husband, Jack’s boss, and the founder of the “Victory Project”.
- Sydney Chandler as Violet
- Kate Berlant as Peg
- Asif Ali as Peter
- Douglas Smith as John
- Timothy Simons as Dr. Collins
- Ari’el Stachel as Kevin
- Dita Von Teese as Gigi
- Sagar Sujata as James
- Marcello Julian Reyes as Fred
- Mariah Justice as Barbara
Development and writing
The film was announced in August 2019 following a bidding war between eighteen studios for the next Olivia Wilde-directed project, which New Line Cinema eventually won. The brothers Carey and Shane Van Dyke wrote the original spec script, which appeared on the 2019 Black List. Katie Silberman was hired to rewrite the script, which became the film’s screenplay.
Reception & Reviews
Don’t Worry Darling has a 45% approval rating based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10 on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The film received a score of 49 out of 100 on Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, based on 21 reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews.”
Following the film’s Venice premiere, Kate Erbland of IndieWire praised the scenography and cast performances, particularly Pugh’s, but found major flaws in the screenplay, summarising: “Pugh’s outstanding performance and the extraordinary below-the-line craftsmanship are all impeccably rendered, but they can’t overcome the film’s rotten core concept.”
In a mixed review for The A.V. Club, Tomris Laffly praised Pugh’s performance but criticised the direction, writing, “Perhaps the chief deficit of Don’t Worry Darling isn’t even predictability, but a discernible lack of new ideas of its own.” The screenplay and direction were criticised by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who called it a “movie marooned in a desert of unoriginality.”
Conflicts on the set
In 2021, it was reported that Wilde fired LaBeouf due to poor behaviour and clashes with the cast and crew. Wilde elaborated on this by saying:
As someone who admires his work, [LaBeouf’s] process did not reflect the ethos that I expect in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, appears to necessitate combative energy, which I don’t believe is conducive to the best performances. I believe that the best way to get people to do their best work is to create a safe, trusting environment. Finally, it is my responsibility to protect the production and the cast. That was my responsibility.
However, in August 2022, LaBeouf refuted these claims, claiming that he left the film despite Wilde’s efforts to keep him on board. He provided Variety with evidence to back up his claims, including a video recording of Wilde saying to him:
I don’t think I’m ready to give up on this just yet; I, too, am heartbroken and want to figure this out. You know, I think this might be a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I’m wondering if you’re willing to give it a shot with me, with us.
Wilde and Pugh allegedly clashed on set, causing tensions during both production and promotion for the film. This included Pugh limiting the amount of promotion she would do for the film, though scheduling conflicts with Dune: Part Two were also cited as a factor.