A tame examination of toxic masculinity – The Knight News

“Don’t Worry Darling” sets its characters in a 1950s island suburban community with a heavenly veneer called The Victory Project. Project Victory claims to have an ambiguous goal to usher in a new era of progress through covert means. Daily life in this microcosm consists of white-collar husbands who go to work conducting top-secret experiments while their wives are relegated to household affairs. The film highlights the domesticated life of Alice (Florence Pugh) and her husband Jack Chambers (Harry Styles). Alice channels all her energy into socializing with fellow wives, taking ballet lessons and throwing decadent parties while Jack struggles to win the approval of his boss Frank (Chris Pine), the charismatic inventor of The Victory Project. .

The only rule of The Victory Project wives must abide by is to stay within the city limits and never venture into headquarters. One of Alice’s friends, Margaret (Kiki Layne), breaks this rule which leads to her being ostracized and labeled as mentally unstable. Margaret divulges that The Victory Project is hiding their true sinister goals regarding their idyllic lifestyle, but the patriarchy makes sure no one believes her. Alice undergoes a similar journey after witnessing a series of irregularities that force her to break the rule and shatter her entire worldview. Alice decides to uncover the truth and fight the forces of toxic masculinity that stand in her way.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is Olivia Wilde’s second directing effort following her critically acclaimed debut “Booksmart.” Wilde teams up again with screenwriter Katie Silberman to create a tasteless feminist psychological thriller that thinks itself more sublime than it actually is. Silberman’s script is devoid of the caustic quips present in “Booksmart,” making it a worthy addition to the high school comedy genre. “Don’t Worry Darling” juggles themes of gaslighting, female subservience, and passivity, but the film makes no substantive commentary on any of them. The script relies too heavily on the central mystery plot of the film which is not gripping enough to hold the audience’s attention for the entire film. The script sacrifices strong characterization and proper pacing for a plot twist that occurs long after most viewers have stopped caring.

Technically, the film impresses with stellar costume design and psychedelic production design. The lavish costumes authentically capture the elite fashion of the 1950s. The staging of the house furnishings conveys the psychological warfare Alice is waging. There is an optical illusion where the glass wall of the house nearly suffocates Alice to illustrate how the world tries to silence her. Additionally, the hypnotic choreography of the ballet lessons draws attention to the theme of gaslighting. However, the musical score was particularly manipulative as it is used to introduce elements of distress into scenes that do not evoke that emotion as Alice wanders aimlessly in search of answers.

Florence Pugh elevates the film with a fierce and fearless performance as Alice is the film’s only dynamic character. Pugh displays a lot of vulnerability in his intimate scenes with Harry Styles. She has a great table scene as she fends off Chris Pine’s attempts to undermine her. Chris Pine does his best to be an imposing presence and a threat, but his driving speeches are riddled with platitudes that don’t have much impact. Harry Styles is useful as Jack and his performance seems to be intentionally melodramatic. He lashes out at Alice when he is unable to appease her to demonstrate his insecurities as a man.

“Don’t Worry Darling” aims to be a deep and provocative inclusion in ongoing feminist cinematic discourse, but apart from a few inventive visual elements, its treatment of its themes is extremely brutal. The narrative is supported by bland characters who are unambiguously evil or incompetent. The film avoids any meaningful conversation by addressing toxic masculinity in an oversimplified way.

Comments are closed.