We’ve all heard the massive headlines about Don’t Worry Darling. Like you, we were doubtful before watching the film because of its bad press. Some of you may still wonder if it is worth your time.
Yet, little do we know that gossip press is an old-time treatment for female directors in Hollywood, according to Richard Rushfield for The Ankler.
To counter the media’s influence, Wscripted is starting a new publication called OPINION for women storytellers to share their reviews and informed perspectives about female-directed films’ new releases. We all perceive things differently based on our education, background, experiences, and bias awareness. We think it is critical to use Wscripted’s community to elevate the conversation and celebrate the plurality of women’s points of view, to enrich the development of stories for Film & TV.
Back to Don’t Worry Darling, we were in awe of the film’s feminist messages, especially after the big reveal toward the end (no spoilers).
Sounds surprising? Here is our take:
The film is a truly eye-pleasing and entertaining psychological thriller with very subtle parallels to the current political climate. The film doesn’t give all the answers, thus leaving room for interpretation to study the complexity of our own lives. The surreal beauty of the film is a metaphor for the social roles still imposed on women by society and the underlying threats of the patriarchy. Olivia Wilde explains to Variety she meant for the film to portray “paradise as defined by the largely monogamous, misogynistic media and world that we’ve grown up with.” Based on Ira Levin’s book The Stepford Wives, the message of the film asks a simple question: “What are you willing to sacrifice in order to do what’s right? If you really think about it, are you willing to blow up the system that serves you?” shares Olivia Wilde for Vogue. According to Vogue, Olivia’s idea for the film emerged after Gloria Steinem told her the only way to break the system was to stop paying taxes. It’s important to note that Don’t Worry Darling paints a portrait of a perfect white America and thus doesn’t engage on race or wealth issues, even if present in the film.
To go deeper, we found that many themes resonate with women’s most profound fears such as mental health, toxic relationships, the loss of freedom & human rights, homicides, extremists against women, and the cyber dangers. Olivia Wilde built up on these fears intentionally as she based the female characters on Betty Friedman’s The Feminine Mystique (second-wave feminism) and antagonist characters on real-life white men cults, she tells Maggie Gyllenhaal. In part, we deeply resonated with the accuracy of the metaverse’s threat. Indeed, technology innovations have mostly been built on biased data, thus amplifying the patriarchy as women engineers only represent 11% of the workforce. Some US states even started banning educational tech books for girls. This topic is very close to Wscripted as we are evolving in the very male-dominated industries of tech and Hollywood.
In terms of artistic direction, Olivia Wilde films the story with a remarkable female gaze, placing the female character at the center of our attention. Zooming on Florence Pugh’s performance enables the audience to feel her emotions while Harry Styles is a supporting character. The camera never films Florence Pugh as an object, which is standard in male gaze cinema, but instead focuses on her mental states to make us experience Pugh’s feelings and pleasures.
According to Variety, “Wilde, 38, sees the world through a post-feminist prism, and the women in her films drive action on their own, without the help of men.”
We’d love to hear your comments about the film below!
To share your OPINION about a recent female-led film release, you can submit your comment here. Wscripted will review before selecting articles to publish under the author’s name on its Medium and Newsletter.
OPINION is a publication of female-led film/TV reviews written by women storytellers from Wscripted’s community. In each OPINION, writers share their informed perspectives about the film, tackling such themes as the female gaze, underrepresented characters, story analysis, and artistic direction. OPINION aims to elevate the conversation and celebrate the plurality of women’s points of view to enrich the development of stories for Film & TV.