Harry Styles has taken the world by storm, even beyond his One Direction days. Around last November, he started shooting for the film “Don’t Worry Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde. Olivia Wilde's choice to cast Styles was sure to generate copious revenue, and while that may be true, Styles' status as one of the biggest pop stars in the world also generated extreme Internet buzz around the film, for better or worse.
In the weeks leading up to the release of "Don't Worry Darling," reports of a hostile environment and energy surrounding the cast, creation and promotion of the film circulated, enhanced by the Internet-presence of the star-studded cast's fans. Anyone with access to social media likely saw the controversy that came with the release of the film as it followed all involved like a swarm of fruit flies, most notably Wilde, Styles and the film's lead, Florence Pugh.
Before Styles, Shia LaBeouf was originally cast for the role of Jack. But due to inappropriate behavior, Wilde said she fired the actor after Pugh expressed discomfort in his presence. Approaching the film's release, a video of Wilde asking LaBeouf to stay apart of the cast leaked. Wilde saw scrutiny for this, with her usually feminist perspective being brought into question after she seemed to not stand up for her female lead. Pugh later chose to not join the promotional tour for "Don't Worry Darling," and reports indicated that she was angry with Wilde.
The controversy surrounding the film and the Internet's animosity towards its cast took a turn for the worse at the film's premiere in Venice after fans attempted to point out that Styles spat on cast member Chris Pine, though that rumor was later shut down by a representative of Pine. During the press conference, Wilde said that Pugh couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts, even though Pugh had arrived in Venice on time, dressed and looking very happy. Pugh's stylist posted a picture of the actress on Instagram sipping tea, the post's caption an apparent dig at Wilde. All of the controversy surrounding the cast and crew of "Don't Worry Darling" ended up taking the spotlight away from Pugh and her co-stars prior to its September 23, 2022 release.
In seeing the film, I tried going in with a clean slate and an open mind. While the movie made me almost uncomfortable due to its eeriness, it definitely kept my attention and had a unique concept. It had an unsettling feel to it that almost creeps you out. Additionally, for "Jack" being Styles' first big role, his acting wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be. With that said, there's no comparing his performance to Pugh's, which was captivating. Overall, I wouldn’t say this movie was as bad as some critics did, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is the best movie of the year. It is definitely a one worth seeing, though, and it left me thinking about it even days later.
The clothing for "Don’t Worry Darling" was styled by Arianne Philips, who discussed in a recent interview for Elle that each costume had a deeper meaning than people might see on a surface level. The clothing worn by Alice especially was a crucial part of the movie. To get clothing accurate to the 50s is difficult, but it was executed beautifully—even the nail trends of the 50s were accurate. Florence Pugh was absolutely breathtaking in the vintage fashion, and it really helped the film feel more immersive.
"Don't Worry Darling" generated so much controversy that we couldn't tell what was true and what was not regarding its cast and their on-set relationships. I suppose only time will tell if the drama surrounding the film will affect its overall revenue and success or any of the cast members' reputations. I do think—regardless of whether the controversies were true or not—we shouldn’t tolerate the blatant sexism directed towards Wilde online, nor should we let the drama overpower the performances of Pugh and Styles. The film is about whether or not Alice (Pugh) should listen to the narrative she is given, or if she should question and challenge it, and I suppose that is the same for everything regarding the controversy outside of the movie as well.