The drama surrounding Don’t Worry Darling has taken over the world in many ways. From the on-set rumors to the commentary on how the public conversation wouldn’t happen this way with a male directed project, to misleading press comments and more, the entire promotional tour deserves a movie in and of itself. One of the more upsetting parts of this film came from Olivia Wilde’s comments on female pleasure and its place in the film.
When you see Don’t Worry Darling, you’ll understand why comments like this are harmful not only to the message the film is actually sending but to young fans who are going to see this movie (despite its R rating) because of their love for its male lead, Harry Styles. Our Princess Weekes wrote up why this was a horrible strategy from the jump, and it plays into one of the twists that the movie gives to us.
While the film is overall visually stunning and an interesting watch, one that I gave 3.5/5 stars, its larger problems outshine what does work. So let’s talk a bit about the “twist” and how it is a sort of commentary on masculinity and male fragility without really saying much else about it.
**Spoilers for Don’t Worry Darling lie ahead.**
When I went into my screening for Don’t Worry Darling, I was worried about a great many things, but the main thing being that the rumor I saw online was true—that Victory was all an illusion and that we would be going into the twisted minds of the people who locked themselves in there. What I got was both worse and not as bad as it could have been. But it did remind me of Ready Player One when it came to its male characters.
The story takes us to Victory, a picture-perfect town that seems to be out of time. Set somewhere that resembles the ’50s or ’60s but without any specific dates to clue us in, the film has the women staying home with their children all day and cleaning the house while the men do important work that they can’t talk about at home. It feeds into this idea that modern men want women to go back to the days when their jobs were serving the home and nothing more.
But the film does a somewhat lackluster job of pointing this out. It is, instead, left to us to infer what it all means, and when the twist comes at the end, that Alice (Florence Pugh) is unknowingly being held captive by Jack (Harry Styles) in their once-shared bedroom so he can live out his fantasy with her in virtual reality, it quickly becomes a descent into nonconsensual territory (with those sex scenes of “female pleasure” that director and star Olivia Wilde went on and on about), as well as what I’ll call the incel version of Ready Player One.
Plug into an Andrew Tate reality
If you recall, the world of Ready Player One was filled with people who would rather play video games and stay stuck in their homes in their virtual reality than live in the present world, which is exactly what Victory is. The difference here is that those in charge are keyboard warriors and incels who think they know what is best for the women they claim to love.
There are some people who are willingly there because they want to relive their pasts, like Olivia Wilde’s character, Bunny, who is there because in Victory, her children are alive. But that gets complicated given what the overall message of the film is trying to be. One of the things about Don’t Worry Darling that didn’t work for me was that everything seemed rushed, which is strange for a movie with a runtime of over two hours, where about an hour of it is sweeping shots of Victory and beautiful clothes.
The last act comes with Alice realizing that her reality and Victory are two separate things. We find out that she was successful and working in a hospital, but Jack, who she is married to, lost his job and is convinced that he has to provide for their family but seems to blame Alice for working to support them when he spends his time listening to Frank (Chris Pine) talk on a podcast.
Through that, he finds the Victory project and traps Alice (after Jack goes full incel), and we learn that the “job” the men go to every day is heading back into the real world to take care of the bodies of the women they have kept prisoner in the virtual world of Victory. See? Ready Player One for incels.
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
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