Plot: What’s it about?
A few years ago I read a tweet by Seth MacFarlane saying something about how Oliva Wilde’s Booksmart was perhaps one of the funniest movies he’d ever seen. MacFarlane’s creation, Family Guy, has provided me with constant chuckles for over a decade. I couldn’t wait to check it out. And he was right – it was hilarious! Wilde, who made a name for herself on TV’s House, seems to be equally as competent on both sides of the camera. So when it was announced that this would be her next film, I thought to myself “Hmmm…OK.” After all, most directors find a genre they like and are good at (i.e. Jordan Peele) and stick with it. I suppose that can’t be said about Wilde. Singer Harry Styles was cast, then had to leave, was replaced by Shia Lebouf, then he left and Styles was back in. That’s a bad omen, if you ask me. Nevertheless, here’s what to expect when trying to decipher Don’t Worry Darling.
Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) is a housewife in the 1950’s married to Jack (Harry Styles), an engineer for a top secret business called Project Victory. He and other employees drive out in the middle of the desert and do…whatever it is they do. Their wives stay at home doing their best to support their husbands. The object being that it allows them to focus on their jobs. The lead of Project Victory, Frank (Chris Pine) constantly reassures them about how important they are, yet keeping them in the dark about what they actually do. Alice along with friend Bunny (Olivia Wilde) spend time shopping and taking ballet, though Alice starts to notice a few things that are a bit…off. Things get further weird when she witnesses a plane crash that leaves no wreckage, and she finds an interesting building out in the middle of nowhere. Thinking something is up, the town’s doctor (Timothy Simons) attempts to gaslight her and that she’s experiencing psychosis. Clearly something isn’t right and Alice is trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Florence Pugh is the anchor of this movie. Actually she’s the anchor of many movies. She’s good. She’s got talent and it shows in every role she’s played. If you’ve not seen Midsommar or even Black Widow – check them out. She can do action, comedy and drama with the greatest of ease. On the flip side we’ve got Harry Styles. Yes, the musician. I’m not saying that musicians can’t act, some can, but he just wasn’t right for the part. I feel that an actor with a bit more talent could have given his character a bit more depth, but alas…this is what we’ve got. In essence, we’ve got a movie that’s a bit disjointed with some very good (and some not so good) performances. It’s entertaining, don’t get me wrong (or, maybe I should say – “don’t worry”) but the sum of the parts just can’t make it work. I’d give it a rental, but think twice about purchasing.
Video: How’s it look?
If you’re a fan of WandaVision, the Disney show about Vision and the Scarlet Witch, you’ll have an inkling as what to expect visually. The 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image leaves very little to the imagination. Candy-colored outfits and that perfect “mid century” look are all exhibited here and with great effect. It’s as if you took a slice of life out of 1950’s America and now we can see, in color, what it looked like. Granted, this has been done before, but the 4K disc offers a great-looking picture aided by the HDR. Detail is off the charts, we can see every strand of hair on the actors. And should we be surprised at this point? Not really. Regardless of your feelings on the film, this looks spectacular.
Audio: How’s it sound?
If you don’t feel the need to pony up the extra cash for the 4K version – that’s OK. Both the 4K and Blu-ray have the same Dolby Atmos track that has a few moments that’ll make your head spin. Vocals are spot on, crisp and pure just as we’d expect. The front stage was fairly active in the first two acts, but took a backseat once some of the other “action” got going (obviously I won’t let the cat out of the bag here). But little things like the sound of water boiling and so forth. It’s yet another testament to how good an properly-executed Atmos track can sound and enrich a film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Making of Don’t Worry Darling – Generic stuff here…
- Deleted Scene – Only one is included: “Alice’s Nightmare” which focuses on Pugh’s character’s bad dream and offers/adds nothing to the story.
The Bottom Line
The elements of a much better movie are all there, but we didn’t get that. It’s an intriguing (yet overused) premise, but has some standout performances – notably from Florence Pugh. Warner’s disc looks and sounds as expected, though the extras are a bit scant. This one’s a tough sell unless you’re a die hard fan of the movie.