Darling, don't worry, it's exactly what you're after

Darling, don't worry, it's exactly what you're after ...

While participating in Dont Worry Darling's famous Venice film festival press conference, pop dreamboat and aspirant actor Harry Styles described his new star vehicle as: "It's like, a movie." Styles said the words "It's like, you know, go-to-the-theater film." Not for the first, or the last, time during Dont Worry Darlings cursed press tour Styles became the butt of the internets jokes.

Dont Worry Darling, starring Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh, is a go-to-the-theater film. Its packed with hot famous people wearing immaculate outfits. Its got a little bit of sex, a bit of mystery, and a bit of action. It's a bold, brassy, high-concept studio thriller that we rarely see often these days.

The subsequent cyclone of gossip that has preceded its release seems to be a part of the experience, or at least consistent with it: a decadent, glossy tableau of turn-of-the-millennium celebrity culture. But happily, all mention of the scandal remains there, as does the finished product, which is slick and evidently well-crafted if not well-thought-out.

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are a smitten young couple living in a midcentury suburban paradise shaded by tall palm trees. What they do there is a closely guarded secret; the project's leader is a charismatic figure known as Frank (Pine), a cultish figure who speaks only in nonspecific aphorisms about their common cause and utopian lifestyle.

Alice maneuvers through this world in a contented haze, drinking wine with her sarconic neighbor Bunny (Wilde) and dancing with other women under the cool gaze of Franks wife, Shelley (Gemma Chan). She cant help but notice flaws in the facade of this perfect world: a disturbed wife in the house next door, a empty eggshell, and a plane falling out of the sky.

The Woman King, a sour, hyper-realistic psychological thriller starring Wildes, is a sight to see behind him.

Wildes willingness to go for the jugular served her well with a ribald comedy that is more suited to a mystery box setting. Some are original and striking, like those empty eggs, or a Marilyn Monroe style cavorting in a gigantic cocktail glass. None of them are subtle.

As Alice draws closer to the truth about what is happening to the Victory wives, nothing is as it appears, and yet, to an even mildly film-literate audience, everything is exactly as it appears to be. Even if you dont anticipate the Shyamalan-style twist in the narrative, you'll know its contours and where it's going long before it arrives.

Maybe there's a sincereness to this or even just a sense of rage. After all, if you're wondering what keeps women bound to an unfulfilling fantasy of becalmed domesticity, or what force constrains their personhood, it's really no mystery at all. Perhaps to pretend otherwise for the sake of a satisfying twist would be its own form of gaslighting. However, if that's the case, a high-concept mystery thriller would probably be the wrong medium for

It turns out that the film's final act is a mess of illogic, irresolution, and half-formed ideas. The filmmakers retract the curtain, point the finger, but are unable or unwilling to explain themselves or to explain the consequences. (Dont Worry Darling has all of the hallmarks of being overdeveloped.)

The actor who is left unharmed by the film's collapse is not Pugh, but Styles. He's not the disaster many gleefully predicted, but he's very dashing, and his boyish artlessness fits better with the film's themes than you'd expect; in Victory, the women arent the only ones being manipulated; he deflates awfully as the plot unravels.

Pugh's rooted physicality and her radiant, mischievous, stubborn sense of life on screen are far greater than real. She will not be denied, and she guides Dont Worry Darling over the finish line with sheer will.

Pugh's performance is enough to warrant a look at this shiny, beautifully finished film that feels like a movie. It's musically richer and a little more edgier, putting crooning doo-wop and nervy jazz against John Powell's unsettling, uneasy tone. But Wilde, eager to keep things simple, has narrowed the gap.

Dont Worry Darling will release in theaters on September 23.