If you were thinking that all the drama and speculation surrounding the release of Don’t Worry Darling was detracting from what was going to be an amazing film, it turns out that’s not exactly the case.
While Florence’s performance has come in for near-unanimous praise, the same cannot be said for the rest of the film, with critics picking up on plot holes, a rushed climax, and a less than dazzling turn from music superstar Harry.
Here’s a round-up of what the reviews are saying...
The Guardian (2 stars)
“Styles may or not be a talented actor; it’s not easy to tell from this, but the normally excellent Pugh has not been interestingly directed, certainly not compared with her work in broadly comparable movies such as Midsommar or The Falling. It is a movie marooned in a desert of unoriginality – and the desert doesn’t bloom.”
The Times (2 stars)
“So many gaping plot holes and unanswered questions too... Styles is a huge problem for the film. He’s wooden as. Especially opposite Pugh, who’s an innately gifted and charismatic screen giant. One could imagine that she was exacting some level of revenge on Wilde, because she wipes the floor with Styles in their every encounter. Each time it’s like watching Brando do the ‘contender’ scene opposite former One Directioner Niall Horan.”
The Independent (3 stars)
“This isn’t the disaster that some predicted – but it is a messy, convoluted affair with some very contrived plotting. Styles gives a surprisingly dull and low-wattage performance as Jack. To be fair, he is playing a very dull character, a kind of Stepford husband.”
Daily Mail (2 stars)
“It’s not that the former One Direction singer can’t act – he can. It’s more that he seems a trifle mechanical alongside his co-star, the excellent Florence Pugh... It’s at least three parts style (and two parts Styles), to one part substance.”
Empire (3 stars)
“This is a story bursting with big ideas, from a critique of capitalism rhetoric and the nuclear family to issues relating to coercive control and even online radicalisation, but not all are fully formed.... Pugh is superb, while Wilde confidently steps up to a bigger subject and budget to deliver a slick, beautiful film. It doesn’t quite stick the landing, but its flight to that point is fascinating.”
“Pugh is unquestionably the lead, but Styles’ Jack is very much second billing, boasting a hefty wad of screen time (more than we expected, that’s for sure). While it’s not a revelatory performance in the vein of Lady Gaga in A Star is Born, you seldom get the sense that he “doesn’t know what [he’s] doing,” as was his quickly-memed quote arising from the subsequent press conference... But for the lion’s share of Don’t Worry Darling, he truly holds his own. We’d go as far as to say he’s pretty bloody good; certainly better than that early clip betrayed.”
BBC Culture (2 stars)
“The issue with Don’t Worry Darling, however, is that it is frequently rudimentary and repetitious – hammering home the same basic point about gender politics while a dulled supporting cast fails to add much colour to the story’s margins... Harry Styles doesn’t quite feel up to the material here, with leaden line delivery and a lack of light and shade making his two-hander scenes opposite Pugh fall flat.”
“Once the film starts showing its cards, it hurries to its climax and conclusion, complete with an unconvincing car chase and a murder. What energy the movie had has been sapped. It staggers across the finish line as it asks us to consider something profound, a great re-awakening that will lead to a mighty reckoning for the movie’s bad men. We don’t get to see that bit, though, because Don’t Worry Darling has used up all its tricks.”
“Together, Pugh and Styles make a striking and believable onscreen couple, oscillating between domestic bliss and mild terror, but Pugh is especially excellent here, tasked with the heady job of answering the movie’s core question: What happens when you side-step subservience, and do the things you’ve long been denied?”
“It would be hugely unfair to allow this tempest in a teapot of gossipy turmoil to influence one’s feelings about the movie. If you want to talk about problems related to Don’t Worry Darling, you need look no further than at what’s onscreen.”
Evening Standard (2 stars)
“To be fair to Styles, he is taking on his first major leading role opposite an absolute powerhouse, and his character is both weaker and less interesting than Pugh’s – but, on screen at least if not on stage, he lacks charisma and range. But he certainly isn’t the worst thing about Don’t Worry Darling.”