A film should be judged for what it tells and not for what happens off the screen: very true, but if it weren’t for the array of gossip, misunderstandings, perplexities and dilemmas that have accompanied this release for weeks (and months), perhaps a few they would know of the existence of Don’t Worry Darling. So, for once, the film has to thank all the superfluous that surrounds it, at least for the work done on a communicative level… given how little it has to say itself.
Don’t Worry Darling: a postcard from USA
Don’t Worry Darling is the classic American postcard flawless world, a little retro and bourgeois, absolutely neat and seemingly perfect. Terraced houses immersed in a bright context, clean paths in which colorful and rounded cars are parked that, every morning, are used by satisfied husbands ready to go to work, immediately after greeting their elegant wives, smiling, in love and with the only goal to make them happy. If you feel a slight discomfort in imagining this situation, that’s okay, because it is something wanted. From the outside, everything must be beautiful, orderly, structured, to hide a darker and more sinister reality. And if at this point you feel a couple of drawers in the back of your mind that recall distant memories of works already seen, I would say that this is also normal. Welcome to the first science fiction work of Olivia Wilde. And this is where we find ourselves asking the first of many questions: wouldn’t it have been better to create something that you are able to manage? After all Wilde with Booksmart (in Italian become an unfortunate La revincita delle los los angeles), also written with Katie Silberman, had shown she could say something, juggle well with comedy and its mechanisms. But the construction of a convincing dystopian world, behind whose facade there are a series of mysteries and social distortions, born with the aim of standing as the flag of modern feminism and in defense of the excessive and wrong use of the figure of the woman by the master man, it is clear that he requires very different previous knowledge and experience. And the lack of these can be seen entirely, especially in the constant and conscious succession that the film makes of quotationism, of its continuous digging into the previous cinematography to create pieces of a puzzle that never fit together, that remain scattered there, a little. nonsense, on that table that is the cinema screen.
A disappointing puzzle
Telling what is the biggest disappointment of this film, or the way in which the events follow one another and reach their conclusion that is too obvious, simplistic and of no impact, is impossible without making any kind of spoilers. Let’s just say that, if you are people who like cinema and who have a certain baggage of films seen behind them, you will soon be able to predict every choice of characters in this story, hoping to be wrong each time. It all starts with Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) and her husband Jack (Harry Styles), moved to the Victory community where he found a job in an experimental company. He was the tycoon, guru and revered Frank (Chris Pine) to conceive the company and the place itself, located in the middle of the Californian desert, the only safe center where everyone works for the construction of a better world. What’s outside of Victory? It is forbidden to know, especially for wives, who are asked to stay within the safe limits of their neighborhood, to distract themselves with parties, shopping, chatting and keeping busy with housework, self-preparation and the pursuit of any what can please your man. Everything is perfectly repetitive, until a neighbor, after having ventured into the forbidden zone of the city, begins to have crises that question the true nature of Victory, insinuating that there is something corrupt and devious behind it. Words that, inevitably, trigger something in Alice’s mind as she sees the glossy veil that seems to envelop her life slowly crumble.
What is really appreciable about Don’t Worry Darling is the attention with which the entire aesthetic sector of the film was created, which is inspired by a fascinating and nostalgic American iconography of the 50s and 60s., in which everything must respect the rules of symmetry and perfection that are well expressed by the scenography and photography of the film. One immediately perceives the attention that has been put into the form of this work, perhaps believing that this would have been enough to support the film. The details on which so much attention has been paid in terms of image construction are precisely those that are lacking in the writing of the characters to make them something more than an aimless stereotype, with many assumptions and no in-depth analysis. They seem like drafts, notes of something that, studied better, could have been useful, interesting, functional. Even the interpretations come out missing, too shouted, smug, monotonous, apparently lacking a real direction from the director. In the midst of this meaningless chaos (so much repudiated by the plot and yet so persistent), only the performance of Florence Pugh stands outwhich proves to be able to give strength and thickness to Alice simply with her acting strength, the only real one in a world of puppets.
But are these two things enough to save Don’t Worry Darling? We would honestly say no. After a first part that lays some interesting foundations (which they already know, but it would not be a problem if they arrived at better solutions) we expect a continuation that chases the chaos of which it is so afraid, that upsets the certainties to give answers to the a thousand questions from the protagonist (and the viewer), which overturns the certainties to lead to the revelation, horror, reaffirmation and affirmation of that social criticism that the director has so ardently pursued. But none of this happens: Olivia Wilde chooses the easy way, the one you always hope is not the answer to everything, to conclude her destructive run within Victory, taking pieces from everything that inspired her. and not bothering to make them elaborate inspirations rather than forced and disconnected grafts within the narrative. Perhaps we should have worried more about what she wanted to tell and less about the aesthetic form with which to do it.