Harry Styles fans could hardly wait: “Don’t Worry Darling” with the pop star in a role is now coming to German cinemas. But the thriller convinces more for other reasons.
Berlin – This film was on everyone’s lips long before it was released in cinemas. On the one hand, this was due to the prominent cast of “Don’t Worry Darling” with pop star Harry Styles and his romantic relationship with director Olivia Wilde, which is believed to have arisen during the shoot. On the other hand, many media reported clashes between the leading actress Florence Pugh and Wilde. For the premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Pugh – very unusual for the leading actress – did not appear at the press conference.
She chose not to comment – instead letting her role in the film speak for itself. And that’s understandable: With her captivating performance, she’s right in the foreground of this gaudy science fiction thriller, which tells of women in American society.
All men work for a secret project
Pugh plays Alice, who lives with her husband Jack (Styles) in a place called Victory in the 1950s: an experimental community where all the men work for a secret project. Their wives take care of the household, dance ballet and wait for their husbands to come home in the evening.
The community is held together by guru Frank (Chris Pine), who is as charming as he is sinister, and whose mantras are repeated over and over again by him and the residents. “Control is beauty”, or: “Symmetry is grace.”
The whole thing is staged in a nostalgic, very American suburb in the desert. The women clean their homes with symmetrical picket fences, hang out laundry in sun-drenched gardens, and sip martinis by the pool. “Don’t Worry Darling” is one thing above all: very stylish. The cars and costumes, like the gender images, date from the 1950s. Everything is pastel-colored, and the furnishings look like they’re straight out of a mid-century catalogue.
Above all, “Don’t Worry Darling” is very stylish
The camera work is also strong: 360-degree journeys underpin the character of this self-contained community. We see Alice wandering around as a small figure in the endless scree of the desert. In addition, the sound is alternately determined by a 50s soundtrack (e.g.: “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)”) or ominous booming noises.
A visual and acoustic event that entertains. The message is pretty clumsy though. So it quickly becomes clear that something can’t be right in this shiny world – and the role models are also exaggerated in their misogyny.
Eventually Alice starts asking questions. What exactly do the men actually do? Her husband, like everyone else, tries to fobbe her off with the statement that it is about “the development of advanced materials”.
Alice breaks out
And why are you not allowed to leave the borders of Victory? Alice decides to ignore it and puts herself in danger. In between, visions flare up in her. In her mind’s eye she sees dancers dancing with a fascist aesthetic reminiscent of their guru’s mantra.
Alice is haunted by nightmarish ideas. At one point, she appears to suffocate herself with cling film. Another time she suddenly threatens to be crushed between the window pane and the wall. Her husband reassured her that a doctor wanted to prescribe her medication.
Men, as women have done so often throughout history, declare them hysterical. Alice has every reason to be skeptical. This is finally resolved with a plot twist, which certainly causes a surprise – but it’s not particularly logical in terms of content.
Outstanding performance by Florence Pugh
In the end, the film is mainly remembered for Pugh’s outstanding performance, which already caused Oscar rumors. But less for the star, who will probably only attract many to this movie.
Styles is relatively pale in his role as a husband – which is also, but not only, due to the fact that he plays a rather dull character. Should the 28-year-old stick to making music? After a smaller role in the war film “Dunkirk”, which at least didn’t bring him any negative headlines in 2017, it remains to be seen whether his next big film role will be answered. This will follow soon: “My Policeman” can be seen on Amazon Prime from November 4th. Styles plays a gay cop in it.
At least there is consolation for fans of the pop star in “Don’t Worry Darling” – in the form of a few smaller singing interludes. dpa