At the moment, the public might know Don’t Worry Darling best as the movie where Harry Styles met director Olivia Wilde and started dating. This is slightly unfortunate, because there’s more than enough buzz around the film otherwise; we hope the tabloid storyline doesn’t overshadow the actual production. The film’s script is an alumnus of the famed Blacklist of un-produced hot scripts. Eighteen separate bidders, including Netflix and Apple, tried to land the project before it settled at New Line Cinema. Wilde is coming off her well-reviewed and promising directorial debut Booksmart. Aside from Styles, a whole lot of other talents, including Florence Pugh, KiKi Layne, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Kate Berlant, and even Dita Von Teese, have signed on. So, what is the film actually about? Let’s break it down.
Florence Pugh and Harry Styles Play a 1950s Married Couple With Some Skeletons in Their Closets
According to the official logline, “A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.” Pugh plays the wife, named Alice, according to IMDb, while Styles plays the husband Jack. By the looks of the trailer, it definitely seems that if the couple has anything going on, it’s a healthy and frequent sex life. Interestingly though, the couple remains childless. In fact, there’s not a single child to be scene anywhere in the trailer. Odd for a movie about married couples in the suburbs.
Though, that trailer now definitely suggest that not everyone is as they seem, or, possibly, even totally human.
Dick Van Dyke’s Grandsons Wrote the Original Script
If anyone would know about midcentury picture-perfect suburbia, it might as well be the Van Dyke family. The Dick Van Dyke Show was one of the most popular sitcoms in the ’60s (an episode of WandaVision only reminded us of that) and the star’s grandsons Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke wrote the original script (the pair also have backgrounds in writing horror films). Though, Katie Silberman, who was a co-writer on Booksmart and Isn’t It Romantic, was hired to do a complete rewrite (Silberman has since been hired to write a script for a female-fronted film in Sony’s Spider-man focused portion of the Marvel Universe with Wilde directing). Silberman’s rewrite, however, means that the film is enmeshed in an extra level of secrecy. Her version of the script hasn’t been widely distributed.
Chris Pine Plays The Mysterious Leader of a Utopian Town Name “Victory”
Chris Pine may or may not technically play a cult leader per Collider, but he certainly seems to be playing the leader of something that seems cult-esque.
The trailer establishes him as Frank, the founder of Victory, and it seems most of the townsfolk hold him quite high esteem. “Frank has built something truly special,” says one character in the trailer. “What he’s created out here it’s… it’s a different way. A better way.” Though, it seems that Pugh’s character eventually uncover Frank’s dark side. “I’ve been waiting for someone like you,” he says. “Someone to challenge me.”
It Seems To Continue Wilde’s Occasionally Surrealist Style From Booksmart
While Booksmart was marketed as a straight forward teen film, Wilde’s direction of the film also included several highly stylized elements, including one in which two characters turn into Barbie-esque dolls. The trailer for ‘Darling,’ also includes some surrealist moments, including one where a character is nearly crushed between an expanding wall and a glass door. There’s also some decidedly chaotic dance scenes in the trailer. They seems like demonic takes on Busby Berkeley musical.
This Could Be a Breakthrough for Styles—But Pugh is Clearly the Star
As Wilde herself has made it clear, this isn’t a “Harry Styles Movie.” This is a “Florence Pugh Movie in Which Styles Appears.”
“Not only did he relish the opportunity to allow for the brilliant @florencepugh to hold center stage as our ‘Alice’,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “But he infused every scene with a nuanced sense of humanity.”
Pugh’s star has been on the rise ever since 2016’s Lady MacBeth but has been in overdrive since the success of Midsommar.
Still, it’s an interesting development within Styles’s fledgling acting career. His one previous non-One Direction-related film role was a small part in Dunkirk.
This article was originally published on 03.02.21