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Don't Worry Darling

Olivia Wilde delivers a mysterious, enjoyable, and damned clever treat with her 2022 thriller DON’T WORRY DARLING. One of my favorite theatre experiences is when a film surprises me or takes twists that I never see coming. If the final resolve doesn’t quite live up to the thrill of the mystery before it, it’s still a journey well worth taking.

Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women) is reliably great as Alice, living a picture-perfect life in a flawless Palm Springs style, experimental community. All the employees of the Victory Corporation live in sprawling mid-century-modern splendor. They all drive shiny sports cars, wear perfect clothes, shop in perfect stores and attend perfect ballet classes when they’re not hanging out by ideally beautiful pools.

Alice is married to up and comer Jack, well played by Harry Styles, oozing every bit of his stage presence. Jack and Alice are living the ideal 60’s sitcom life of Rob and Laura Petrie, but with a lot more cocktails and sex. Rob and Laura couldn’t be show in bed together, but Jack and Alice are all over each other, including in a dining room table scene that pushes the limits of an R rating.

Chris Pine is Frank, the President of Victory, an almost cult-like figure that everyone seems to worship without hesitation. Pine is excellent, giving Frank incredible appeal cut with a creepy menace. Is he a visionary? A life-coach? He’s riveting.

Nick Kroll provides comic relief as Jack’s co-worker and neighbor Bill, while Timothy Simons (Veep) leaves his comic abilities untapped playing Dean, the Victory company doctor that’s all too willing to make house calls with his little black bag.

Alice’s friends Bunny (Wilde) and Violet (Sydney Chandler) urge Alice to ignore any negative thoughts about their utopia.

What could go wrong in this perfect technicolor world?

Small cracks in the shiny veneer of Victory begin to give Alice pause.

Those cracks become tremors when a tragic accident befalls another wife, Margaret, powerfully underplayed by Kiki Layne.

Alice tries to squelch her doubts, but she begins to have disturbing visions.

A shopping trip to town takes a turn when she sees a plane plunging into the desert, leading her to a line no one at Victory is supposed to cross.

Victory asks one thing of their employees: complete and unquestioning loyalty. Can Alice comply with that? Just what does Victory do and what is Jack working on?

The mystery really kicks into gear, and I won’t give away any plot points. Wilde and screenwriter Katie Silberman collaborated on the terrific comedy/drama “Booksmart” and show the same sure footing here in a very different genre.

Two thirds of the way through the film, I had no idea where they were taking me. I found the actual reveal a bit disappointing, but the set-up is so brilliant that the feel and look of the resolve are doomed to be a letdown.

I really enjoyed DON’T WORRY DARLING. Audiences seemed to enjoy it much more than critics (what’s new?) but like Alice, I was completely seduced by the setting. Discovering what’s really going on in this paradise is fun, suspenseful, and more than a little disturbing.

A Victory for me, it gets an A.

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