Critics Have Decided About Olivia Wilde’s Troubled New Movie
Critics have come to a consensus about the new Olivia Wilde film Don't Worry Darling, and spoiler: they do not like it.
Olivia Wilde has had a rough few months. In addition to her well-publicized personal issues (which became even more public after she was literally upstaged by legal documents), her new feature film Don’t Worry Darling has seemingly been beset by drama after drama after drama. Now that the film has been publicly screened at the Venice Film Festival (with star Florence Pugh notably declining to sit on a Q&A panel), the critical consensus is coming for Olivia Wilde and her new movie. In short: it is not great.
Review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes is currently listing Don’t Worry Darling at 41%, which decidedly puts it in the “rotten” category. Critics like the BBC’s Steph Green are describing it with terms like “half-baked, risk-free ideas” and RogerEbert.com’s Glenn Kenny succinctly describes it by writing it “isn’t THAT bad, it’s also not very good.” Most critics highlighted Florence Pugh’s lead performance as a 1950s housewife who begins to question her idyllic existence while regarding the rest of the film as thin and airless. The production design of the film was also well-regarded in its pristine depiction of a midcentury American paradise, but the story itself seems generally to be considered predictable and simplistic. All in all, not high praise for a film that has managed to seize the headlines in recent days, though for regrettable reasons. Given that Olivia Wilde’s previous feature directorial effort Booksmart is sitting at an excellent 97%, it looks increasingly like like the filmmaker is experiencing quite the sophomore slump.
Don’t Worry Darling was directed by Olivia Wilde from a screenplay by Katie Silberman; this is their second team-up, after collaborating on Booksmart. The story was originally written by the sibling team of Carey and Shane Van Dyke, landing on the prestigious Black List of unproduced screenplays in 2019. After a rewrite by Silberman, Olivia Wilde originally intended to play the lead role herself, but eventually decided to cast Florence Pugh. Olivia Wilde ended up playing a supporting role in the film. However, that was not the end of the casting changes. Shia LaBeouf was originally to play the lead male role and was replaced by Harry Styles, who apparently is both mystified by the process of acting and eager to make as many movies as he can.
That casting change became one of the most discussed aspects of the film, which is rarely good for objective critical appraisal. At one point, Olivia Wilde claimed to have fired Shia LaBeouf from the film, stating that his “process was not conducive to the ethos” she required in a production. She also stated she felt she had a duty to “protect” the cast. LaBeouf rebuffed Olivia Wilde’s claim, stating that he had quit the production and providing Variety with video evidence of the director asking him to remain with the movie. Notably, she seemed to imply that Florence Pugh would need to adjust to Shia LaBeouf’s presence. Later, Pugh would largely decline to promote the film. Currently, people are wondering if Harry Styles spat on co-star Chris Pine, because the drama never stops with Don’t Worry Darling.