It’s hard to get close to ‘Don’t worry, dear’ leaving aside all the noise that has accompanied the film in recent months, especially if you have followed the drama closely. Rumors of behind-the-scenes problems, alleged rivalries and infidelities, and one of the most tense and surreal promotional campaigns remembered in a long time. All this has meant that there is hardly any talk about the film itself, focusing attention on its tumultuous filming and the (very public) aftermath that it has left in the final stretch towards its theatrical release..
That said, it is our job to try to separate the external racket, however entertaining it may be, from the artistic proposal that the film offers us, to value it for itself, although it is inevitable to look closely for signs on the screen of that supposed development. hit by a car. The bad thing is that, even doing this abstraction exercise, Olivia Wilde’s second film as a director turns out to be disappointinga work whose result does not reflect its ambition and that does not add anything new or exciting to what we have already seen many times.
With ‘Super Nerds’, Wilde signed one of the most acclaimed debut films of recent years, a refreshing and emotional teen comedy that positioned her, after a prolific career as an actress, as one of the new voices to follow in American cinema . Her bar was high and the expectations even higher, perhaps that is why with her second feature film, she has fallen into the much-feared pothole of the second film. With ‘Don’t worry dear’, Wilde scales up his vision, jumping into the sci-fi mystery thriller with more budget, more stars, and therefore more pressure.. One that can be felt threateningly throbbing throughout the footage.
‘Don’t worry dear’ is the story of Alice (Florence Pugh), a 50’s housewife who lives with her husband, Jack (Harry Styles) in the Victoria community, an experimental city built in the middle of the North American desert, where life is perfect, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. While the husbands go to work in the mysterious company behind the project, the women of the community stay to take care of their home, waiting for their husbands with the house like the jets of gold and dinner on the table. Everything works like clockwork, until one day Alice realizes that something strange is happening and cracks begin to appear in the supposedly perfect facade that is her life, which will lead her to try to find out by all means the sinister reality. that hides behind his idyllic life, even if it means putting himself in immediate danger.
The main challenge that Wilde faced with ‘Don’t worry, my dear’ was to prevent the referents that make it up from swallowing it up. And unfortunately, the film is a constant déjà vu that takes us back to previous works of a similar nature and leads us at all times along well-known paths. With a script by Kate Silberman, who repeats with Wilde after ‘Super Nerds’, the film is based on a story by Carey and Shane Van Dyke, one that recycles many ideas previously seen in science fiction and is reminiscent of things like ‘The Perfect Women ‘, ‘The Truman Show’, ‘Pleasantville’ or even the recent ‘Scarlet Witch and Vision’ (in addition to other references whose mention would constitute a spoiler), stories about people trapped in supposedly perfect realities that hide a disturbing truth under their crystalline surface , and which form a subgenre in itself.
The problem with ‘Don’t worry, my dear’ is that it starts from an idea that has been previously explored in fiction, that in order to bring it to fruition, you have to innovate, find a new perspective to tell it. And Wilde just can’t find that extra ingredient that separates her from her predecessors and takes her beyond sexy pastiche (but not much). In the end, the director stays on the surface, prioritizing style over substanceand it doesn’t get to the bottom of the thought provoking insights that Alice’s story raises and the film’s micro-society presents, leaving us with a rather simplistic message about gender roles.
The structure of the film doesn’t help either. ‘Don’t worry, dear’ spends too much time on its approach and, consequently, often falls into repetition, prolonging too much a story that asks to break much earlier, especially considering that, from the outset, we know where it is headed. directs. In the end, more than a movie, sometimes It can give the feeling of watching a stretched episode of an anthology series like ‘The unknown dimension’ or ‘Black Mirror’, but a rerun that we have already seen and that, therefore, is very predictable.
Florence Pugh rises above the film with another great performance
What cannot be denied is that ‘Don’t worry, my dear’ is overflowing with style on all four sides. Narratively it can be an off-center film, yes, but technically and visually, it is absolutely impeccable. Wilde films with a good pulse, orchestrating a staging with hardly any cracks, in which only some visual resources squeak that may be a bit old-fashioned, but that is otherwise as beautiful and elegant as a dream of the 50s in Technicolor. John Powell’s music also stands out and helps create that haunting, nightmarish atmosphere that envelops Alice’s world. Y the costumes and production design are a complete delight, each shot could be the cover of a fashion or architecture magazine.
At an interpretive level, the film also complies. Especially thanks to Florence Pugh, who reconfirms herself as one of the best actresses of her generation with another dedicated and outstanding performance. The young British actress rises above all the setbacks in the film and is primarily responsible for holding the pieces together and keeping everything from falling apart., with a total commitment to the character and the project. Her male partner, Harry Styles, faces the challenge of his first leading role in the cinema and the truth is that he is not up to the task, but not so much because of his performance, which is quite solvent considering his lack of experience, but because his is an obvious casting mistake, a role that is great for him, despite the fact that he also does his part to defend it as best as possible.
As for the rest of the cast, we are left wanting to know more about various characters, such as the villain played by Chris Pine, a magnetic and threatening presence who ends up deflating as an antagonist, as well as his selfless wife, to whom he gives Gemma Chan’s life, which hides a very interesting character that we never get to meet. The same happens with the rest of the inhabitants of the Victoria community, pawns in a game that never intends to turn them into real people. The one that stands out the most, curiously, is Wilde as the cheeky and charismatic neighbor of Alice and Jack, a character candy that the director, very intelligently, reserves for herself, although she doesn’t go too deep into it either.
‘Don’t worry, dear’ is not the disaster that they announced to us, or the one that its eventful production and morbid promotion could predict, but it is true that it stops halfway, giving us the occasional flash of brilliance to end up getting lost in the nets of the trap that it sets for itself. It’s hard not to find things to enjoy in it, the beautiful packaging of it, its powerful central performance or several passages that catch with the tension of it, but something is missing. And I’m not talking about the vocative comma in the title, which too, but about a distinctive approach that justifies retelling the same story again, that is truly provocative in its social criticism and is capable of transcending that glass wall that puts between us and Alice.
The best: Florence Pugh giving her all and the impeccable staging.
Worst: It lacks originality and point of view and fails to stand out among other very similar proposals.