The day that Don’t Worry Darling was screened at the 79th Venice Film Festival was the date for one of the premieres that has most aroused the phenomenon of fans and a gossip so wild that it has obscured the film it promoted. The presence of its actors, Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine and its director Olivia Wilde, who also participates as an actress, was a new episode in terms of the circumstances surrounding the film, since Pugh, who was shooting Dune, with Denis Villeneuve, did not arrive at the press conference and went directly to the red carpet, where she stayed away from the director. On the other hand, when the former left the room, she forced a standing ovation that could have lasted longer than it was heard.
In case anyone is not aware of the gossip, we will remember that the male lead that Wilde wanted had a conflict of dates due to his world tour, so he hired Shia LaBeouf, whom he then fired arguing that he wanted a safer climate on the set, referring mainly to Pugh, and relying again on Styles, having canceled his tour. The actor denied that he had been fired and the next episode involved Florence Pugh feeling uncomfortable on the set, because the director and Styles would have started a relationship, even though she was still with her husband, who visited her on the set, accompanied by their children. And now let’s talk about what’s important.
Don’t Worry Darling opens with a display of color, dresses and hairstyles from the late fifties, in a set that looks like something out of Mad Men, where alcohol drips from the screen, the women are perfect and the men sport neatly pressed ties. Like a synchronized ballet, the day begins in a housing development in the middle of the desert, with cloned houses and men leaving for work in a cheerful caravan while the wives, who stay at home, say goodbye to their husbands by the car, perfectly groomed.
The ladies devote themselves to the housework with full satisfaction, they clean, cook, dress, make up and are ready for the conjugal debit after welcoming their husbands with a whiskey in their hand, as comforting as the smile with which they welcome them at the end of their day. What do these husbands do in their work? A top secret mission, not to be asked about. That oasis of perfect living, with country club, tennis and swimming pool, is a man’s thing, and above them all, the supreme boss, the initiator, Frank (Chris Pine) the founder of a personal project that, with his enormous power, has secured the loyalty of his employees and their families. The Chambers couple, Alice and Jack (Florence Pugh and Harry Styles) thrive in this brave new world called Victory, where everything a wasp in the fifties could wish for is assured.
However, as expected, that perfect world has a breach, the one through which Bluebeard’s wives died and for which Eve was expelled from paradise. When women are not content with mansplaining and want to know for themselves what is going on and where they are, when they rebel against the manipulation of information that is the tale they are made to believe, wrapped in pink wrapping paper. What more do you want if you have everything? the problem is the nature of that “everything”. In Victory, Alice is not the first to dare to breach the safety boundaries of her bubble, as another perfect wife tried unsuccessfully, but she will want to go all the way.
It is not possible to advance here in the plot without revealing a spoiler -perhaps it is a problem of the film-, but let us say that the screenwriter of Booksmart (2019) is inspired by The Truman Show, Zuckerberg version. The screenplay of Don’t Worry Darling -based on a story by Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke, Dick’s grandson- had the honor of belonging to the famous Black List, which annually integrates those preferred by producers, but not yet shot, among which have included those of Argo, Juno or The Revenants, however, has not stood the test of time or has not taken into account that the audience is no longer surprised by a plot resource of little originality.
The most positive aspect of the film is to have played with recent history, with the changes in a society in which women have won rights in the last 70 years, although men’s fantasies have not evolved accordingly. This Achilles heel of female emancipation is revealed as a threat and for this reason the struggle must still be constant, so as not to continue orbiting in this passive, submissive and always complacent role.
Don’t Worry Darling can be watched with interest and pleasure, visually it is very attractive and the narrative, despite the predictable, is more or less sustained, although what is really important and what really grounds the film is Florence Pugh’s performance, as intense as usual. The contrast with Styles, whose performance is a pass, is blatant, so at the end we have clear who eats whom, and it is not exactly what Wilde shows us.