Meshuga for Movies: Don’t Worry Darling

Don't Worry Darling review

It’s time for the second installment of Meshuga for Movies already! Who would have thought there’d be so much Jewish stuff in the movies… All kidding aside, Meshuga for Movies is a column meant to celebrate the producers, directors, actors, and more from our community that inspire us with their creativity, innovation, and talent. Well, the movies that don’t flop, that is.

So is Don’t Worry Darling worth celebrating? It’s time to take a closer look at this stylish psychological thriller.

The question of the week – what is Don’t Worry Darling even about? Sources claim that it is not just about that one scene (yes, you know the scene we are talking about) and insist that there is much more to it. Without getting into spoilers, Don’t Worry Darling follows Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack’s (Harry Styles) lives in a 1950s era alternate universe where they were handpicked to be part of a super secret undisclosed opportunity.

On the surface Jack and Alice’s lives seem to be one of domestic bliss, with Alice staying at home as Jack works. Their lives are full of constant dinner parties, drinking, and female orgasms. But is all as great as it seems?

As for the drama surrounding it… Reportedly, Florence Pugh and director and costar Olivia Wilde had their share of disagreements. Pugh was absent for most of the film’s promotion. And in times where she thanked those who worked behind the scenes on the film, she failed to mention Wilde. Additionally, Pugh was highly critical (and we think rightfully so) of all of the attention that one scene was getting compared to the rest of the talent displayed in the rest of the film. In one of her few statements related to the film, Pugh commented that: “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry.”

Is this scene necessary? Again, you have no choice but to watch the film, as I did, to find out.

This does not even scratch the surface of the drama circulating this film. During filming, Wilde split with long time husband, Jason Sudeikis, and began dating — you guessed it — Harry Styles. Press reported mixed messages on how Wilde and Sudeikis were getting along, and even reported that Styles had met Wilde’s kids. All of this makes it quite unclear how amicable the split actually was. Sources close to Sudeikis claim he had nothing to do with this, but it seems a little too convenient that Wilde was served custody papers on stage while promoting the movie at CinemaCon in April 2022.

Wouldn’t I love to know if Styles and Wilde are still together through all of this… Anyone who can tell gets permanently sealed with a good year in the book of life. 

If you thought this was the extent of the drama, you thought wrong. Reportedly Shia LaBeouf was initially cast as the role played by Harry Styles. Wilde stated that she did not go through with his casting because she could not create “a safe, trusting environment” with him. But LaBeouf shared screenshots of text messages with Wilde that indicate that in actuality, Wilde wanted him to continue and LaBeouf chose to quit. Video “evidence” indicates that Pugh wanted LaBeouf out and Wilde initially dismissed her concerns. 

All of this drama may actually make you forget that there were more than three actors in this film. Chris Pine (did Harry Styles spit on his lap or what?), Nick Kroll, Kiki Layne, and Ari’el Stachel — believe or not — also had leading roles in the film.            

So Back to the Movie, Darling

Do I like Don’t Worry Darling?

I will have to quote Harry here when I say that: “My favorite thing about the movie is that it feels like a movie. It feels like a real, like, go to the theater film-movie — you know — the reason you go to watch on a big screen.”

This really makes me wonder if he should’ve just stayed with music. However, I will be honest and say that I enjoyed the experience of seeing this film. My viewing happened to be primarily filled with female Harry Styles fans and I could tell that this movie was like their Super Bowl. No shade to them — it was fun laughing and groaning along to Harry’s put-on American accent and that awful incel mustache he rocked for part of the film. 

More thoughtfully, I am not convinced that this movie added anything to the psychological thriller film world that hasn’t already existed. Wilde clearly wanted this film to accomplish a lot of things, and as a result all attempts came across as half-assed. Riddled with plot holes, I am still not sure what I should have taken from this movie. All I can say with confidence is that there was commentary being made in gaslighting.

Obviously, we are anti-gaslighting, and this film did not really add more to enhance that belief.

Becca, Lost Tribe blogger and movie lover

SPOILER – In many ways, the universe Jack and Alice live in are meant to be a male-fantasy and, while shocking to see the 1950s housewife world in that context, I am not convinced that there is any weight to this portrayal. Prominently shown is the ability for Jack to make Alice orgasm. With such a major theme shown throughout, the film fails to make a statement on it and viewers are left grasping at straws and speculating. Is the sexual aspects another way that Jack keeps Alice under his control? Or is the ultimate male fantasy the thrill of masculinity that comes from making a girl orgasm? Is being good in bed the biggest insecurity that men are facing? I have no clear answer on any of these and am honestly unsure how much I even need an answer. 

Lastly, I am quite sick and tired of seeing movies where the minority character figures it all out, dies early in the movie, and all of her realizations get thrust upon the remaining white woman. Florence Pugh is a phenomenal actress and I was thrilled to see her in the leading role, but the injustice done to Kiki Layne as an actress and her character in the film left me disappointed. It’s 2022, Olivia, so let’s stop killing off our black characters first!

Layne aptly commented on this saying: “They cut us [her and Stachel] from most of the movie, but we thriving in real life.” And Stachel, who played her husband, referred to his role as being a “glorified extra.” Honestly, it’s a shame and a waste of these highly acclaimed actors’ talents.

With a score of 4 on Jew or Not Jew, Harry Styles, much to my chagrin, is still not Jewish. And yeah, tweeting Happy Pesach once is not actually considered a valid conversion by any means. As I frantically searched up more names,  Olivia Wilde is, much to my surprise, Jewish, and by that I mean she is 1/64th Sephardi Jewish — so maybe don’t ask her about that next time you see her.

Miracle of miracles, Nick Kroll (who I frequently forget is in this movie) is as Jewish as they come. By that I mean he had a Bar Mitzvah, grew up in a conservative Jewish family, and went to the same Solomon Schechter School that many of my camp friends went to! Yeah, Nick is definitely getting an invite to my Passover Seder. 

In terms of theme, there is something so Jewish about someone attempting to play G-d and control the lives of others and failing horribly. This can for sure be said for Jack who SPOILER tries to control Alice’s life for the entirety of the movie. 

Review by the Numbers:

Humor — 2/10

Jokes about this movie are funny. Harry’s incel mustache is funny. The actual dialogue and storyline, however? Not that funny. Do not watch this if you are looking for a lighthearted film.

Acting — 6/10

I love Florence Pugh and she deserves a high score for carrying this movie. This may be a hot take, but I was not too disappointed by Harry’s acting prowess either. This movie can’t get a perfect score for acting, though, because we were really robbed of Kiki Layne’s talent.

Storyline — 4/10

With a storyline as plot hole ridden as this one, I cannot give this a high score. In my opinion, it is clear that story was pushed aside for the apparently more important placement of intimate scenes between Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. I couldn’t give this movie a complete 0, because the story was unique and had certain memorable aspects.

Jewishness — 7/10

I managed to adequately give it a Jewish comparison and Nick Kroll slays as my unproblematic favorite in the film, so I can say with certainty that this film earns a 7/10. Points were lost because I can’t with a straight face walk into a dinner party and say “Don’t Worry Darling is a Jewish movie.” I mean I can, but I won’t. 

Emotions — 3/10

Much like Chris Pine in that one interview with Harry Styles, my emotions fluctuated from a mixture of bemusement to incredilation, then back to bemusement. Leave the tissues at home for this one. 

Level of Artsy Pretension — 4/10

This movie wasn’t even artsy enough to be pretentious! The attempt was there, with cuts to black and white dancers moving constantly in a circle and an image of a singular eye peering down, but they were few and far between and easy enough to explain. Again, Wilde really thought she was doing something with this movie and she really wasn’t. 

Ratio of Outside Drama to Actual Plot — 10/10

Need I say more? 

Overall: 5/10

Okay, so I wouldn’t call it a must see… But if you want to be in the know of the film haunting everyone’s TikTok screens then you don’t want to miss this one. Act fast though, because I’m sure all of this drama will blow over in a week or less and everyone will be focused on the next thing. Did I mentioned that Ned from the Try Guys was caught cheating on his wife?