There are times when the pre-release chatter about a movie is so loud and ridiculous that it can drown out the much more interesting conversation surrounding an otherwise great movie. Then there’s the matter of Olivia Wilde’s direction.Don’t worry darlingRumors of cast firings, on-set romances, and on- and off-set tensions have swirled for the past several weeks.

The chatter that gained such traction among social media users, though, will likely remain the most endearing thing to come out of “Don’t Be Very Darling.” The original film is hollow and disappointing.

And that’s a shame, because on the surface it sounds outrageous and looks like something baked inside a “Stepford Wives” dutch oven. It is a story about housewives in a post-World War II suburb. Like 1975’s Chiller , “Don’t Be Very Darling” has an undercurrent of misogyny under its pleasant and brilliantly techno-tinged surface.

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But how it reveals itself, and the plot that unfolds—through a script written by Katie Silberman, Cary Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke—are mere glimpses of sharp writing. Basically, though? It’s just undercooked.

Alice (Florence Pugh) finds herself in an increasingly dangerous position in “Don’t Be Very Darling.”

The premise and talent is definitely there (save for one performance which I’ll get to in a moment). Just like in 2019’s “Midsommar,” Florence Pugh is fantastic at grabbing the audience’s hand and unwittingly leading us into the pit of hell.

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The actor anchors “Don’t Worry Darling” as Alice Chambers, the doting wife of Jack (Harry Styles), with whom she has settled in a haunted community in California in the 1950s. When we meet them, they are right in the middle of what we think of as everyday routine.

Jack is rushing to his nondescript office job, known only as the “Victory Project,” in a suit and carrying a slim black briefcase. Alice walks up to him practically as soon as he gets into the car, ready to hand him her coffee mug and plant a lipsticked kiss on his cheek.

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Cut to a post-work scene as Alice finishes preparing a juicy steak inside her primitive kitchen. She has a stiff drink ready for her husband as he walks in the door. But Jack barely takes a sip before he wraps Alice in his arms and makes passionate love to her—on the sofa, against the wall, or sometimes at the very table at which they eat.

And that usually forces him to go under it.

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Alice and Jack (Pug and Stiles) are emotionally devoted to each other. "Don't worry darling."
Alice and Jack (Pug and Stiles) are emotionally devoted to each other in “Don’t Worry Darling”.

This recurring image is an interesting, perhaps deliberate, subversion of the typical one-dimensional, Jon Cleaver-esque notion of the impersonal as*xual and patriarchal housewife. “Don’t Be Very Darling” doesn’t quite take Alice out of the reality of white suburban housewives in the 50s. But it gives it some much-needed pep.

And for a while it seemed that Wilde and the trio of screenwriters presented an interesting setup. Alice and Jack throw lively parties for the neighborhood. She smokes and drinks, and she and her man have s*x like it’s their religion.

Sure, they have questions about when they will have children (it is the 50s, after all). But she’s also the envy of all the other passionate housewives on her perfectly manicured block. They include Alice’s martini-toting Beastie Bunny (Wild), the dignified Shelley (Gemma Chan), the wide-eyed Peg (Kate Berlant) and the new-in-town Violet (Sydney Chandler).

But like any flawless portrait, when Alice starts looking a little too deeply into it, less savory things present themselves. Like, why is it that no one is allowed to step outside the neighborhood? What kind of work does Jack and literally every other man do in this heavily imposed community? Absolutely What for the cult company run by the mysterious Frank (Chris Pine)?

Housewife Bunny (Olivia Wilde), with husband Dan (Nick Kroll), celebrates. "Plan for victory" Along with its founder (Chris Pine).
Housewife Bunny (Olivia Wilde), along with husband Dan (Nick Kroll), are celebrating “Project Victory” with their founder (Chris Pine).

These are all important questions that are answered by the time the credits roll at the end of “Don’t Worry Darling.” But there’s an even more important question that looms and becomes a thorn in the side of the film: What’s going on with Margaret (Kiki Lane), Rarity? The black wife in the neighborhood, who — as legend has it — went off the deep end once she stepped out of line?

That’s about where “Don’t Be Very Darling” starts to fall, and when it’s at its most interesting. This is because it portrays a character that has a lot of potential. Really Corrupts past iterations of this premise, and does very little with it.

Margaret has maybe a handful of lines in the entire film, yet she is crucial to the story.

His unexpected and seemingly unsettling appearance is what triggers Alice’s decision to rock the sinister boat and find out what’s really going on.

But because the movie establishes Alice as the main character, we immediately root for her – even though Margaret is discouraged from doing the same by her neighbors.

Troubled housewife Margaret (Kiki Lane) is turned into a plot device. "Don't worry darling."
Distressed housewife Margaret (Kiki Lane) is reduced to a plot device in “Don’t Be Very Darling.”

Unlike Alice, Margaret remains an underwritten character who appears mostly in brief, mysterious flashbacks that raise further questions, or through cracked doors as her husband (Ariel Stachel) tries to calm her down. (Which we’re assuming is one of those. “Episodes”). or – and this underlines the film’s unspoken message – in one of Alice’s incredible visions.

Because it becomes abundantly clear that despite the film’s added importance to the narrative of the white woman’s plight, Margaret is here only as a plot device. Just think what could have happened if both Alice and Margaret cooperated in overturning the strange system in which they live.

Maybe the filmmakers were also busy trying to make a connection. gave One of the most vulgar turns in the third act is to pander to his overwhelming white-feminist vibes. Part of the problem is that this curveball involves a lot of jack, and the styles aren’t up to the task.

It’s okay for the first two-thirds of the movie when Jack is merely serviceable (save for one random “dance” scene). But when Stiles has to help pivot the storyline, he’s forced and uninteresting. It seems like everyone else in the film has to work harder in scenes with him. This includes those who are just phoning in their performances but still manage to entertain.

Jack (Stiles) settles into a highly structured life in California in the 1950s. "Don't worry darling."
Jack (Stiles) settles into a very organized life in 1950s California in “Don’t Worry Darling.”

There’s a popular belief that when you have more than two screenwriters on a project, the final film ends up looking like it has a bunch of split ends. That’s certainly true of “Don’t Worry Darling,” a charming film that ultimately fumbles the ball so hard that the missing comma in its title is actually more surprising than what happens in it.

It seems like the filmmakers don’t know which direction to go and what they actually want to say with “Don’t Worry Darling”. When it subverts the patriarchal lens of the 50s, it’s charming and entertaining. But when it actually tries to compete with that, even adding a whole other story to boot, it goes off the rails. The story is overly complicated.

And some of the above questions arise from it? Audiences will likely come away scratching their heads, still trying to figure it out – and not in a good, borderline pretentious way. There’s a lot of racing towards the end of the film, like it’s running towards a big reveal. For a second, you eagerly anticipate it. But then, it just … concludes.

And that’s probably the biggest metaphor in the whole “Dorling Darling” story. For weeks, even months, before its release, there was such an intense build-up around it. But then the movie comes out, and it’s like, okay. On to the next thing.

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