WHAT I LIKED: Katie Silberman and Olivia Wilde's 'Don't Worry Darling,' is a Hollywood thriller about a woman called Alice (Florence Pugh) who slowly realises she's living in a trap created by evil men, only to eventually make an inevitable break for freedom.
As you'll probably guess if you've seen the trailer, it all starts as a portrait of sickeningly surreal 50s domesticity; Alice dotingly preparing elaborate meals for her husband Jack (Harry Styles), spending her days cleaning their immaculate home, doing ballet classes, and gossiping with friends who live carbon copy existences as housewives. They all live together in one purpose-built town, and serve their husbands who go off to work at the mysterious "Victory Project," which boss Frank (Chris Pine) insists can't be discussed at home.
We never see beyond the boundaries of the town, but it's pretty clear pretty quick that there's something sinister going on, not least because one resident loses her son after venturing beyond the perimeter, but also because it's all realised so perfectly. The cars and houses gleam, the outfits dazzle, the edits are stark and strange, and, most importantly, the smiles look brilliantly false and exaggerated.
Before long, Alice inevitably starts asking questions and having strange visions, and that leads her to start spiralling out of control and getting visits from the town "doctor," whilst everyone deems her insane. It's not a film that primarily has you sat there longing to uncover the central mystery behind all of that; instead you're engaged more in the prospect of Alice making a break from her restricted life, and that's mainly because Pugh does such an amazing job of portraying her as such a wilfully determined, likeable character.
(*SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*)
So, when you do find out she's being kept there by Jack after he drugged her real, present-day working self and plugged her into a machine to live out this fantasy with him, it's not so much the surprise as the horror that gets you. These evil men have created a sick male-fantasy paradise, forcing their partners to serve their every need, and declaring them insane if they ever question things. The sequence that follows in which Alice confronts Jack - a man she still clearly loves - is extremely moving, and then her final break for it all is properly edge of your seat stuff.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There is a while in the middle, after Alice has collected an idea of how sinister their lives are, where the film just keeps driving that same point home, and that gets a little tiring. Also, being about evil men and victimised women who get little development outside of their fantasy world, it's hardly the most nuanced feminist film thematically, but that's not really a problem.
VERDICT: Brilliantly directed and performed, Olivia Wilde's 'Don't Worry Darling,' is a thoroughly engaging thriller about a trapped woman trying to make a break for freedom.