We're Worried, Darling

The Twists In Don’t Worry Darling, Ranked By Messiness

Just wait until you find out the reasoning behind Harry Styles’ accent...

Margaret Flatley/Bustle, Warner Bros Pictures, Getty Images

Don’t Worry Darling is a singular achievement. Not because it is a good movie — it is, in fact, a bad movie. Aside from Florence Pugh’s transcendent performance, the whole thing basically amounts to a pile of empty pretensions, snipped from greater films and sewn into a suburban-subdivision-shaped quilt. And yet! Nothing has done more for our culture in recent memory.

This is because Don’t Worry Darling, through no effort of its own, gave rise to a spectacular swirl of Tinseltown drama not seen since the coked-up days of the Golden Age. It is hard to explain how majestic this soap opera has become, perhaps because, like all good soaps, it was best watched in real time. Over a series of months, we went from a rumored rift between a director and her lead actor to a tangled web of blood feuds. Planned appearances were canceled. Voice memos were released. Shia LaBeouf reared his head.

If you would like a full accounting of the events, Bustle has a 2,000-word story for you. If you only want the broad strokes, here you go: Before Don’t Worry Darling, Olivia Wilde was an untouchable new directorial talent and one-half of a Hollywood power couple, Harry Styles was a universally beloved pop star on track to become a celebrated actor, Chris Pine had not (allegedly) been spat on, and no one had ever heard the words “Miss Flo.” Fast-forward through a series of press reports and surreal red carpets, and everyone has been dragged into a fiery, meme-filled inferno of their own design — save Pugh, who’s emerged better than ever, having swapped her undesirable beau Zach Braff for an Aperol spritz. Even Gemma Chan, who has made a career out of giving us nothing, was ensnared in chaos by proximity alone. (True to form, even as a portal to hell threatened to tear apart the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival, Chan gave us nothing. An inscrutable icon.) In sum, we all became more than a little worried, darling.

Which brings us back to the movie itself. The fact that the film falls apart at the slightest prodding, like a shoddy, midcentury tract home, only adds to the grandeur of Don’t Worry Darling’s larger comedy of errors. With that in mind, I have attempted to weave both of these threads together, so that one might be strengthened by the other, in an ultimate accounting of Don’t Worry Darling’s messiness. Here, the twists of the film Don’t Worry Darling, measured against the chaotic events of the Don’t Worry Darling press tour. (Obviously, spoilers ahead.)

The Twist: Dita Von Teese is here.

As Messy As: A team of publicists carefully staging the red carpet so you don’t have to stand next to your star.

In a set piece that added absolutely nothing to the story and developed not one character, Dita Von Teese briefly appears to perform a burlesque show at a glitzy event celebrating the Victory Project — the “utopian” midcentury LARP that everyone’s acting in, whether they know it or not (more on that later). In the moment, Von Teese’s appearance was bizarre and distracting. In light of the film’s big reveal — that the women are all trapped in a metaverse run by their incel husbands, who sought a way to return to ’50s-era gender roles — it is just stupid. Did Chris Pine beam a famed burlesque dancer and eyeliner-wearer into his secret metaverse just for a brief performance? Come on, now. Be reasonable.

In scale, this is roughly equivalent to the spectacle that was Don’t Worry Darling’s red carpet premiere, which forced feuding parties to finally meet face-to-face after months of warfare. I’d wager that the specific arrangement of a cast’s group photo took hours, and a whole team of screaming publicists, to agree upon. (The ultimate lineup: Nick Kroll, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Sydney Chandler, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan. Notably, Pugh, Wilde, and Styles were all separated.)

The Twist: Harry Styles’ character “chose” to be British in the simulation, just for kicks!

As Messy As: Getting served papers onstage.

Near the end of the film, it’s revealed in a throwaway line that Harry Styles’ character freely decided to be British while visiting his wife’s domestic prison, just because. Styles’ accent did fluctuate throughout the movie, but not in a way that seemed at all intentional. Perhaps it was added in post as a voiceover, to try to paper over Styles’ uneven voice work? I’ll spread this rumor until someone proves me wrong!

This twist is silly and highly unnecessary, much like the moment on the Don’t Worry Darling press tour when Wilde was presenting at CinemaCon, and a member of the crowd approached to serve her custody papers on behalf of her ex, Jason Sudeikis. (He issued a statement denying prior knowledge of the event, saying he “would never condone” such a thing. Wilde later told Vanity Fair that she “wasn’t that shocked … that [event] was consistent with my experience of the relationship [with Sudeikis].” I myself believe them both: I’m on the side of chaos.)

The Twist: The black-and-white visions of a dance troupe that Alice sees in her dreams are just a screensaver that starts when the simulation begins.

As Messy As: Saying you couldn’t come because of work, then posting a video of yourself sipping an Aperol spritz in Venice.

As Pugh’s character begins to realize that something is wrong with her life — maybe because her neighbor screeched “We’re not supposed to be here!” in the first few minutes of the film? — she begins to have visions of well-coiffed women dancing in sync. The audience is led to believe that there’s some clue to be found under their tap shoes or hiding in their white-blonde wigs. But no: There’s no point to them at all, they’re just the equivalent of the “loading” screen users see when they enter the metaverse. Cool, dude.

Messiness-wise, this is on par with Pugh’s impeccable bait-and-switch at Venice: After telling fans that she simply couldn’t make the Don’t Worry Darling news conference ahead of the premiere, as she was abroad shooting Dune: Part Two, the actor posted a video of herself sauntering down the streets of Venice, sipping an Aperol spritz without a care in the world. Unlike the movie’s dance troupe switcheroo, though, Pugh’s surprise was inspired, sublime, and life-affirming.

The Twist: Bunny was in on it all along.

As Messy As: Coming with receipts to prove that you weren’t fired — you quit.

All of the wives, the audience learns, are unknowingly trapped in the incel metaverse… except Bunny, the one played by Wilde. She’s fully aware of the situation and chooses to live inside the simulation because it allows her to be with virtual versions of her children, who died in the real world. This is maybe the only twist in the whole movie that’s actually interesting, and makes actual sense when you look back on the character’s actions. It also had the effect of testing viewers’ loyalties: Would they understand Bunny’s choices or condemn her for her complicity in the Victory Project?

Loyalties were also tested when capital-V villain (and alleged abuser) Shia LaBeouf showed up midway through Don’t Worry Darling’s press tour. He surfaced to contest Wilde’s claims that he’d been fired from her film for failing to comply with a “no *ssholes policy,” releasing damning texts and voice memos from Wilde to prove that he’d quit of his own volition. Not only was this unexpected, but it briefly put LaBeouf dangerously close to being in the right. However, all it took was a quick re-read of this account of alleged abuse from his ex FKA Twigs to set ourselves straight.

The Twist: Harry Styles’ character is actually a disheveled incel.

As Messy As: Harry Styles is a spitter.

In the real world, Harry Styles’ character is not a suave, doting husband; he’s a greasy-haired, patchy-bearded loser with a yearning to return to the days when women stayed home and cooked dinner. The sight of Styles doing his best ugly incel is, on its face, hilarious. Who in their right mind ever thought Harry Styles, a pop star whose brand fuses puppy-dog earnestness with sexual magnetism, would make a for a convincing basement-dwelling incel?

Surprisingly, though, he makes a very convincing spitter. Styles and Pine may deny that any saliva was spewed in what amounts to a modern day Zapruder film, but I know what I saw.

The Twist: Chris Pine’s wife kills him.

As Messy As: Sassily referring to your lead behind her back as “Miss Flo.”

At no point in Don’t Worry Darling is it apparent that Gemma Chan’s character Shelley is unhappy. In fact, it’s not really clear if she feels anything except a desire to lord over the other women as the town’s imperious first lady or to protect her husband (Chris Pine) from slander. And then, out of nowhere, she stabs her hubby in the stomach with a kitchen knife.

No character decision has ever made less sense, except when Wilde implied in a video to LaBeouf that her star, Florence Pugh, was being unreasonable… and referred to said star as “Miss Flo.” This nickname is Wilde’s greatest misstep — it’s hard to promote yourself as a feminist director when you’re infantilizing the lead woman in your own film. It is also her greatest artistic achievement. Never has a nickname been more unhinged, more inflammatory, more reminiscent of a Progressive commercial. Uttering the words “Miss Flo” is like getting a long-overdue lobotomy. Finally, my brain is broken, and I know peace.