I went into this film thinking it would be a drama focused around the atomic experiments of the fifties. The American desert setting and the promise of a ‘mystery’ certainly gave that impression. Sadly, it isn’t that. Instead this is an around-average psychological horror and a film that is far less interesting than it sets out to be. To be unfairly harsh, I might even say it would work better as an episode of Black Mirror than as a stand-alone feature film.
Harry Styles and Florence Pugh play Jack and Alice Chambers, a couple living in an idealistic 1950s California desert town. Jack goes off to work each morning to a job which he and the other men are not allowed to talk about, whilst the ladies lead trouble-free lives of ballet lessons and sipping cocktails by the pool. When one of their neighbours begins to challenge the perfection of this ‘utopia’, and Alice sees a plane crashing (which everyone denies), everything starts to unravel.
The first hour of the film is where it’s strongest. The fifties design is gorgeous, accompanied by some top fifties tracks which fit well with the style of the film. There’s a fabulous scene where a group of cars all leave their drives at once and which is perfectly choreographed into a kind of dance. Filmmaking at its finest. As everything unravels and the cracks begin to show, all the style drains away. The music adopts a more standard, modern tone and the bright, nuclear glow of the fifties colour palate becomes more muted. This is also pretty impressive work.
The film doesn’t stick the landing though. There are some great horror scenes, and some amazing acting from Pugh as she begins to question the world around her, but the twist (which is very Black Mirror) makes the whole thing feel generic. I won’t spoil it for anybody, but this kind of twist has been done before, often better, and at this point is becoming overdone.
Were it not for the overblown production drama, Don’t Worry Darling is a film that would probably have passed everybody by. The drama has given it more importance, more of a must-see quality than it perhaps deserves. I feel that it will find its fans in time, but this will always be a film known less for its plot and more for its off screen intrigues.ALSO CHECK OUT: Harry Styles in My Policeman, out on Amazon, 4th November.