Movies with Isaiah: Florence Pugh is masterful in 'Don't Worry Darling'


Before I provide my thoughts on this film, I want to share a reminder that the views I have regarding any form of cinema are solely my opinion.

Before watching "Don't Worry Darling," I became strongly aware of the negative press - stories of behind-the-scenes drama between Shia LaBeouf and director Olivia Wilde resulting in him being removed from the project.

One of my rules of thumb is deliberately removing myself from the political and dramatic landscape that pertains to various themes, messages or beliefs that can generally transform into a problematic situation. My goal is simply providing an honest analysis on whether the story resonated with me on an emotional and thought-provoking level, thus allowing me to share it with all readers or viewers on my YouTube channel.

"Don't Worry Darling" is a psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde, whom you may be familiar with from the medical drama "House M.D.," "Cowboys and Aliens," "Tron: Legacy," "Richard Jewell" and many other films and TV series that made her a household name. The thriller stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Wilde. The story revolves around the character of Alice Chambers living the simple, perfect and ideal life with her husband, Jack, who happens to be massively dedicated to his employment and aspirations in becoming something greater and accepted socially.

Strange events that cause Alice to question the life she's living bring about significant disturbing and creepy revelations. Much like my review on "Barbarian," I am going to venture into the territory of being intentionally vague on the overall details of this film. I've always appreciated any story that initiates the purpose of thinking outside of the box and challenging my perspective on what's possible. As I watched the story unfold on Sunday evening, I found how unique and interesting it was in captivating me into this specific world.

If I were to give an accurate description of what "Don't Worry Darling" represents, I believe it would spoil the importance and the initial plot of the film. From a cinematography perspective, the film is vibrant in colors, sharp and precise, and figuratively sets the mood on how it transitions significantly from idealistic to intense atmosphere and questionable scenarios.

Florence Pugh delivers a masterful and realistic powerful performance as Alice, who is desperately searching for reasons regarding her existence. Not only is Pugh a beautiful woman, but she's immensely talented, too. I fully admit all scenes with her had me falling in love. She captures the mindset of a loving, dedicated and naïve housewife before quite easily transitioning into an emotional, fearful and determined character. I'm not overly familiar with Harry Styles other than knowing he was in the group One Direction and his brief appearance in Marvel's "Eternals."

Styles' performance I found to be very serviceable and believe he did a very good job with the material. There were scenes where it was obvious that he was attempting to match the energy of Pugh, and it wasn't catching on like it should've, although it didn't deter me from enjoying the overall quality of the story in the end. Chris Pine's performance as the mysterious Frank I found was equally disturbing and chilling. He's another actor I've grown to appreciate ever since I watched his portrayal as Captain Kirk from 2009's Star Trek reimagining. How he can easily slip into the role of a charming, intelligent and calmly deranged mystery man was quite frightening in my eyes.

"Don't Worry Darling" offers an interesting view into a unique world that I found is very reminiscent of the household neighborhood environment of, say, Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands." Essentially that's the most accurate wording that I could articulate in describing how to view their existence of the characters. Reviews from an assortment of critics indicated that this film was Wilde's attempt at deconstructing men or sending a message of an anti-male testament.

As someone who watched the story unfold, I personally didn't see that theme being present at all in the film. I fully believed that her intention was clearly indicating the ever-growing threat of anyone following blindly no matter the gender. At least that's how I perceived it, and maybe the initial message was simply hitting a bit too close to home for some viewers. Granted, it's not my place to solidly state what their issue is in the end. All have the right to like or dislike a film. In the end, all that matters is what that one person feels and what they got out of the story.

I do think "Don't Worry Darling" will find an audience because I find it to be a very misunderstood and underrated form of cinema that needs to be watched with an open mind for it to be appreciated. There wasn't one moment when I found myself bored. In my opinion, I found how fascinating, different, emotional and thought provoking it truly was on the surface and within the story itself.

My final rating of "Don't Worry Darling" is another 10/10 and two thumbs up. I highly recommend this gem as a quality outing for the year. This film is not for children. There's intense sexual situations, violence, disturbing imagery, detailed innuendo and profanity that isn't suitable for them. A great film to watch with friends or on a date. Once again, I highly recommend "Don't Worry Darling."

Next review will be the 2022 horror film "Smile" that's being released Friday.

Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.