By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
made her directorial debut with the 2019 critically acclaimed teen comedy, "Booksmart." Her follow-up, "Don't Worry Darling"
is a stylish, retro, sci-fi drama that plays like a mashup of "The Stepford Wives" and "The Twilight Zone."
In addition to directing and co-producing "Don't Worry Darling," Wilde stars in the film. It's a headscratcher at times and one of those “things-aren't-quite as-they-seem” kind of movies.
"Don't Worry Darling" is set in the 1950s, in the tony, quaint Victory, California, a carbon copy of Palm Springs. It is a small town that caters specifically to the men who work for Frank (Chris Pine, "All the Old Knives"). He created this mysterious world known as the "Victory Project” and has sold/brainwashed his male employees on it.
As long as the residents--who are “fortunate” to live there--abide by the rules and principles, that Frank has established, life is good. Some of the residents include Jack Chambers (a delightful Harry Styles, "Dunkirk") and his loyal wife Alice (a dynamic, Florence Pugh, "Black Widow"), Bunny (Wilde) and Bill (Nick Kroll, TV's "What We do in the Shadows"). Oh, and there is even a Black couple, Margaret, (Kiki Layne, "Coming 2 America" and "TV's "The Old Guard") and Ted (Ari'el Stachel, "Zola").
On the outside looking in, everything seems perfect in "Victory." The cars are amazing, the houses are spectacular, and cocktails pour all hours of the day and night.
Nothing can possibly be this perfect.
Margaret (Layne) is the first to notice that something is going on with Jack that is making everyone act kind of weird. However, Margaret's outspokenness about the "Victory Project" doesn't endear her to Frank or any of the others really. Remember, as long as the women don't ask questions and basically stay in their lane as good and loyal housewives, they are rewarded with this "perfect lifestyle."
Still, Alice (Pugh) is starting to wonder why does Jack and the rest of the men devote so much of their time to Frank? Just what is the real story behind this mysterious "Victory Project" and how involved is Frank's wife Shelley? (Gemma Chan, "Eternals").
When Alice starts sniffing around for clues and answers, it makes Frank uneasy, and he arranges for the company doctor (Timothy Simons, "Home Sweet Home Alone") to exam Alice. He tries to convince her she's losing her mind. She's not crazy, but the dreams and hallucinations she’s having sends her spiraling out of control.
There are several loose ends in "Don't Worry Darling." The big reveal isn't all that big or revealing. Still, I give “Don’t Worry Darling” more points for style than substance.
It is an ambitious offering from screenwriters Katie Silberman ("Booksmart") and Carey and Shane Van Dyke--grandsons of Dick Van Dyke--that surprisingly hits more than it misses.
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Watch This Trailer For "DON'T WORRY DARLING"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.