Do Worry Darling: Olivia Wilde’s Flawed Approach to a “Feminist” Film

Do Worry Darling: Olivia Wilde’s Flawed Approach to a “Feminist” Film

Spoiler Alert: The following review contains spoilers for the movie Don’t Worry Darling

Content warning: The plot of Don’t Worry Darling deals with self harm.

 The controversial production, Don’t Worry Darling, is initiating an uproar amongst fans and critics alike, taking the film industry and BHS students by storm. The film hints at societal issues like gender norms, government control, and extremist misogyny. However, despite opposing opinions from Berkley students, the idea that director Olivia Wilde’s dystopian approach distorted these issues is common among many.  

Don’t Worry Darling is set in a fictionalized 1950s America that is really a government simulation. The creator recruits incels (involuntary celibates) from the real world and gives them the opportunity to be successful bread-winners while the women in the film are expected to stay home and serve their husbands in the “perfect” dystopian world of ‘Victory’. Challenging the perfection of this society are Alice and Margaret, both of whom are suppressed because of their intellect. 

The movie intends to display feminist ideals through the female lead Alice, played by Florence Pugh. Alice is persistent in pursuing what she believes to be true that there is some hidden secret at the heart of life in Victory. She trusts her instincts despite the powerful men in her life gaslighting her into thinking she is safe. The other prominent female protagonist Margaret, played by KiKi Layne, also rebels against the system but ends up committing suicide, the only way she knew she could escape the simulation. 

Although female viewers feel represented by seeing women oppose misogynistic systems, BHS senior Shayna Mouradian clarifies that in truth the “majority of KiKi Layne’s scenes were cut from the movie.” KiKi Layne’s social media confirmed this when she posted a selfie with the caption saying, “…they cut us from most of the movie, but we are thriving in real life.” Layne’s lack of screentime in the film, despite her character’s crucial role in the plotline, makes viewers question if director Olivia Wilde did  support her female cast members, especially those of color. If Wilde did make the point to feature all female cast members in the film as much as she did Florence Pugh, the feminist ideas would be strengthened and a more clear message would be portrayed to the audience. 

On a different note, a topic that often goes unnoticed by the film industry is the lack of representation involving female pleasure. There is already such a stigma around female sexual arousal, and the film industry is largely to blame for only showing the man’s enjoyment. However, Olivia Wilde combats this stigma within the first twenty minutes of the film with lead actors Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. Wilde says, “Female pleasure, the best versions of it that you see nowadays, are in queer films. Why are we more comfortable with female pleasure when it’s two women on film? In hetero sex scenes in the film, the focus on men as the recipients of pleasure is almost ubiquitous.” Wilde succeeds in normalizing female pleasure by only featuring women’s arousal in intimate scenes. 

Another perspective on the film was regarding the layer of government control in the city of Victory. Junior Alexis Thalman closely compares Don’t Worry Darling to our current society, saying,  “Both in the movie and in America, it seems as if one man is controlling everyone’s life and no one realizes it.” Chris Pine, acting as Frank, the leader and creator of the idyllic dystopian world, manipulates and convinces men who are unhappy with their lives to become a part of a world where everything is “perfect.” Our country’s long history of white male leaders proves that America really isn’t all that different from Victory. Also parallel to the plot of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is how the roles of men often diminish that of women, made especially prominent in the occupation of the men (work at Victory) compared to that of the women (being stay at home moms). This misogynistic mindset that women are not worthy of the same rights as men is particularly true to our country’s states now, involving Roe v. Wade. 

While the film as a whole was an entertaining way to communicate our society’s faults, there were some inaccuracies worth mentioning, the most important one being Harry Styles’ character Jack. In the scene portraying the real world, before Victory, Jack is depicted as an incel, a man who feels he’s been robbed of his quality of life because his partner (Alice) is happily a part of the workforce. However, the problem doesn’t lie here. In Victory, Jack is a successful breadwinner happy to serve his wife, but in the real world he is your typical unwashed Reddit user, binging videos in the basement. This extremist perspective in the movie takes away from the overall feminist message as if to say your average sophisticated man couldn’t harbor the same thoughts, that he had to be “uglier” for viewers to understand. Other inaccuracies include Styles’ character attempting to make dinner for his wife in an apron which Wilde describes as “a message that this man isn’t insecure about his masculinity and he is making himself equivalent to his wife”; however, this statement neglects the extremist ideology and misogyny of the incel. Berkley Bear, Alexis Thalman adds, “Some parts of the movie were very empowering to women, and other parts I just wasn’t sure about.” 

As powerful as the female lead proves herself to be throughout Don’t Worry Darling, it would be naive to think that the film was a seamless attempt at combatting sexism and to deny the fact that misogyny is still deeply rooted in our society. Women’s rights are still being threatened, and our voices are still being hushed. Olivia Wilde’s directing of Don’t Worry Darling was a thoughtful attempt at communicating her feminist point and although it had some successes, the film overall feels like a betrayal of feminist ideals.