‘Don’t Worry Darling’ presents claim on society and women

Melani Bonilla, Multimedia Editor

“Don’t Worry Darling” directed by Olivia Wilde, is a psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. Subliminal messages, which showcase the supposed role of women in society, are woven into the film’s story.

The film follows the story of Alice, a housewife who lives in the seemingly “perfect” world of the town named Victory. However, as the plot progresses this world becomes darker and darker.

These cracks start appearing when Alice travels to the forbidden desert. Lucid visions come to life, in the present and in her dreams. Mirrors shatter, women slash their necks and she gets squished between glass panes.

The cinematography to execute this followed a similar theme of pastels and coordinating hues that dominate Wes Anderson style color palettes. While visually exciting, the film’s content becomes disturbing, with a plot twist that takes viewers by surprise.

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique has worked on various projects beforehand, racking up impressive titles such as “Birds of Prey” and “A Star is Born.”

In an interview, Libatique spoke on the importance of all aspects to Wilde. “Meeting Olivia, she’s so inspiring visually,” he said. “It’s important to her what the cinematography is. It’s important to her what the palette is that she weighs in on production design and costume and design hair and makeup equally.”

It is clear that design and costumes were strongly taken into account in the composing of this story. Alice is often seen wearing a shirtwaist dress and accessories to compliment her coordination. Every detail is meticulously thought out to allow viewers to form opinions on Wilde’s social commentary.

Donning traditional housewife attire dated back to the 1950s, it is a visual connection between our world and the past.

It is also a reflection of society at present disguised as a psychological thriller.

Alice plays the perfect housewife, always having dinner ready for her husband, Jack, played by Styles, when he comes home. She cleans, cooks and has sex with him when he wants. All to do it again the very next day.

This is similar to the societal expectations towards women in the 1950s.  According to PBS, “Although women had other aspirations in life, the dominant theme promoted in the culture and media at the time was that a husband was far more important for a young woman than a college degree.”

The culture of the 1950s has followed women into the present day and these aspects are clearly translated into Wilde’s film through the fantasy world viewers watch.

In Victory, women don’t have to pay for anything. It is a convenience to them as they all gawk over dresses and spend their husbands’ money. The women in this world take pride in galivanting their black cards.

This advances the idea that “women can’t manage money” and other stereotypes inflicted on them. Stereotypes that have translated into a pay gap, an issue which plagues society to this day. According to the United States Census Bureau, “Although the gender pay gap has narrowed since the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to 2020 data…”

Further, the sexualization of women is clearly a major theme in the film. It opens with Jack greeting his wife as she has dinner ready. The dinner is ignored as they proceed to be intimate with each other. The creator of Victory even watches as the couple have sex, displaying his power and enjoying how she is turned into an object to be sexualized.

This sexualization is something that women are not deaf to. It manifests into body image, clothing and the market focused around beauty. It is ingrained that to be valuable is to be beautiful, as all the women in Victory are.

The lack of opportunities for women in this world are made clear from the voice that wakes them up every morning, blasting on the radio. It encourages that a women’s place is in her home, and advertises clothes, shopping trips and cleaning supplies.

It is a world of no opportunity, as Alice “wakes up.” Stuck in this reality, she is at odds with who she used to be and who she is now.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is cinematically intriguing, visually pleasing and overall, a great watch. Wilde creates a world that was around not so long ago to make viewers think of parallels in our current day.