Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Divides Critics At The Venice Film Festival

Described as stylish, fun, and flat all in one breath, Olivia Wilde’s fourth directorial project Don’t Worry Darling drew plenty of hype after this Monday’s commencement of the Venice Film Festival.

Don’t Worry Darling is a psychological thriller directed by Wilde and written by Katie Silberman, who collaborated with the former on her first feature-length film Booksmart. The story follows Alice (Florench Pugh) and Jack Chambers (Harry Styles), a young, happy couple in the 1950s, busy building a life in the ‘perfect’ company town of Victory, California, built and funded by the corporation Jack works for. The story follows the tensions that get drawn up as Alice’s curiosity gets the better of her, and she discovers unsettling truths behind the company’s mysterious ‘Victory Project’.

While the film itself has consistently drawn attention — largely due to its high-profile castings of

Pugh and Styles — it received fairly mixed reactions from critics, although Pugh’s performance

remains a consistent high across the board, along with fellow actor Chris Pine. Styles… wasn’t as


Here’s what leading media outlets had to say:

Brian Truitt, USA Today

‘At a particularly tense dinner party, Frank belittles Alice by saying she’s the “challenge” he’s been

looking for but ultimately she’s disappointed him. Unfortunately, the same can be said of “Darling,”

an ambitious meal with some key ingredients that just feels undercooked.’

Kate Erbland, IndieWire

‘Disingenuous, easy, cheeky — much like the film itself, which starts off strong before crumbling into

baffling storytelling choices made worse by the revolting intentions behind them. More frustrating is

that the film also offers stunning craft work, a wonderfully immersive quality, and one of star

Florence Pugh’s best performance yet. Too bad about the rest of it.’

Credits: Warner Bros. Pictures

Pete Hammond, Deadline

‘It is sort of a cross between Get Out, The Stepford Wives, and Rosemary’s Baby with a ’50s swinging

Rat Pack vibe thrown in for good measure. And maybe even by luck of timing, the shutdown of Roe v

Wade by the Supreme Court provides gravitas for an underlying message here of the terror imposed

by men controlling women’s bodies in this otherwise fun, if familiar, film.’

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

‘Don’t Worry Darling, will more likely be remembered for the offscreen intrigue — tabloid romance,

lead actor replacement, a glaringly public serving of custody papers, a rumored clash between

director and star — than it is for much else in this umpteenth Stepford Wives knockoff. That’s not to

say it’s without sizeable pluses, chief among them a meaty lead role for the dependably compelling

Florence Pugh, who hasn’t played a woman in this much peril since Midsommar. It also scores points

for allowing Chris Pine to show what a devilishly charismatic villain he can be.’

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

‘Pugh, the 26-year-old British actress whose fierce emotional intelligence belies her doll-like

prettiness in films like Midsommar and Little Women (for which she received her first Oscar nod),

gives Alice as much inner life as the skittering screenplay allows, and Styles, at least, looks fantastic

in a suit. But the movie, whatever its pile of ideas about love, gender constructs, and modern living,

never really transcends Stepford mood-board pastiche. It’s all nefarious and gorgeous, Darling, and

strictly nonsense in the end.’

At the film’s press conference this Monday, Wilde, who also plays a role in the film, said that she set

out to provoke and entertain audiences with her new film. “I hope it provokes conversations,” she

said. “I hope people think and question the system that serves them. We also want this film to be

incredibly entertaining.” It was interesting to note that she dodged questions regarding Shia

Laboeuf, who was slated to star in the film until the actor was hit with allegations of abusive


Don’t Worry Darling will hit theatres on September 23rd .

Lead Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

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