Don't Worry Darling Reviews: Florence Pugh Praised in First Reactions as Film Divides Critics

·3 min read
Don't Worry Darling Reviews: Florence Pugh Praised in First Reactions as Film Divides Critics

Don't Worry Darling is a mostly stylish, fun experience despite some pitfalls, according to critics.

After the film, directed by Olivia Wilde, had its debut at the 2022 Venice Film Festival Monday, the first reviews were shared, offering mixed reactions that still highlighted the aesthetics as well as star Florence Pugh's performance.

For USA Today, Brian Truitt said Oscar nominee Pugh, 26, "continues to make everything she's in better — and, boy howdy, it's needed here as the plot grows more convoluted. She takes [her character] Alice from ever-doting to paranoid conspiracy theorist and back again, making both happiness and terror feel impressively authentic in a waxwork world."

Kate Erbland, for IndieWire, said Pugh "has never turned in a bad performance," and noted that she "excels at turning her characters — all women on the verge — into fully realized people, unafraid to tap into their worst impulses alongside their most admirable ones. Most of Don't Worry Darling is told through Alice's perspective and thank goodness for that, because she's the film's unmitigated highlight."

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"Pugh always delivers, even when the material is beneath its star," wrote Erbland.

RELATED: Olivia Wilde 'Had to Cut' Sex Scenes from Don't Worry Darling Trailer: 'We Want to Be Provocative'

FLORENCE PUGH as Alice in New Line Cinema’s “DON’T WORRY DARLING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
FLORENCE PUGH as Alice in New Line Cinema’s “DON’T WORRY DARLING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Merrick Morton Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling

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In his Deadline review, Pete Hammond said the film is "actually quite entertaining if you're in the mood, even if" it "doesn't rewrite the rules of the genre in any significant way." About Harry Styles' performance, Hammond added that the pop star, 28, "shows he is the real deal as an actor and has great promise."

Gemma Chan, Harry Styles, Sydney Chandler, director Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Florence Pugh and Nick Kroll attend the "Don't Worry Darling" red carpet
Gemma Chan, Harry Styles, Sydney Chandler, director Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Florence Pugh and Nick Kroll attend the "Don't Worry Darling" red carpet

Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

However, some reviewers were less in favor of Styles' work here. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said, "When things turn dark and strange and Jack's idealized world is threatened, that's when doubts arise about Styles' range. Is he just a magnetic screen presence who looks fabulous in 1950s threads, or an actor capable of depth and nuance? He's fine in the role, but based on this, the jury's still out."

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern said Styles "struggles to match [Pugh's] go-for-broke intensity," adding that he "is like a deer in headlights throughout much of the proceedings." Stern said it is perhaps "unfair" that Styles "was paired with an actress as formidable as Pugh in his first leading role."

Like most reviews, Leah Greenblatt's Entertainment Weekly piece lists the cinematography and visuals as standouts where the script might sometimes fumble. Greenblatt called Don't Worry Darling a "movie high on snazzy midcentury style but considerably less bothered by the mechanics of cohesive storytelling."

At the film's press conference at Venice Monday, Wilde said she set out to make a "provocative" and entertaining movie with deeper messages underneath. "I hope it provokes conversations," she said. "I hope people think and question the system that serves them. We also want this film to be incredibly entertaining."

Don't Worry Darling is in theaters Sept. 23.