A “nice girl” greets her husband with dinner, a cocktail, and sex on the dining room table. A “good girl” follows the rules and doesn’t go beyond the limits of the desert. Alice is a “good girl”, until she starts to remember.
In Don’t Worry, Honey , Alice ( Florence Pugh ) and Jack Chambers ( Harry Styles ) are part of the revolutionary Victoria Project, an achingly perfect community in suburban America inhabited by workers for a project so mysterious they can’t reveal Not even with their families. They all live under the patronage of Frank, played by Chris Pine, as a revered and ubiquitous guru.
The days go more or less like this: freshly brewed coffee, eggs and bacon for breakfast, a line of husbands in suits getting into their classic cars on a dead end street while the women, beautiful and sensual, greet them from the sidewalk. They will spend the day like a stereotypical housewife from the last century between cleaning the house, gardening afternoons -looking at the plants while having a drink-, the hypnotic ballet classes of Shelley (Gemma Chan), Frank’s wife, or shopping meetings – looking at clothes while having a drink. Everything comes from the same place: everything is provided by the project .
“My first conversations with the cast were about how the audience has to buy into the fantasy,” said director and actress Olivia Wilde in an interview with Variety magazine. But the perfect palm trees, the azure sky and the Kaufmann houses – we imagined from the beginning – hide an uncomfortable, suffocating and terrifying truth.The idyllic construction of a 1950s domestic life turns into a psychological thriller when Alice sees a plane go down beyond the permitted border and Florence Pugh returns to horror in broad daylight .
When she starts asking too many questions they call her crazy, hysterical, paranoid. She prescribes a handful of pills and a round of electroshock. A personal and exemplary punishment: the wives, the “good girls”, do not disobey.
Don’t Worry, Honey
Although the film premiered on September 23 at the Venice Film Festival, the news surrounding its production had warmed up much earlier. The drama creeps into the theaters of Montevideo on a Wednesday night, where the audience – in their mid-twenties – update each other on all the behind-the-scenes intricacies while waiting for a bucket of pop:rumors of inappropriate behavior on set, alleged infidelities, Shia Labeouf being replaced by Harry Styles as lead role, Jason Sudeikis being replaced by Harry Styles as Wilde’s partner, private videos that came to light, Florence Pugh’s reluctance to participate in the press actions of the film, the supposed enmity between the actress and the director and even the meticulous analysis of what looked like a spit during the premiere.
How does the film compete with the plot –fictional or not– that has been assembled around it on the Internet? It is impossible to stop wondering if the same criticisms and questions would exist if the director were a man; There are several examples of all of the above that generated much less scandal.
But despite, or because of, the reviews and rumours, Don’t Worry, Honey, it grossed an estimated $19 million in its U.S. opening and $10.8 million worldwide on its opening weekend. .
“Florence’s performance in this film is astounding. I find it baffling that the media would rather focus on unfounded rumors and gossip, thus overshadowing her profound talent. She deserves more than that. So does the film and everyone who has worked with her. so hard,” Wilde, who also plays Bunny – Alice’s glamorous neighbor and best friend – told Vanity Fair.
Pugh puts himself in the shoes of a woman going through an existential crisis that shakes her even in her own perception, while everyone around her seems to be having the time of their lives between promotions, celebrations, cigarette smoke and even the presentation of iconic cabaret star, Dita Von Tease.
And while she carries the film on her shoulders, as far as acting is concerned, the plot would fall apart if Styles’ performance wasn’t credible enough. The mega-pop star, who had a role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and is set to debut in the romantic drama My Policeman , commits to a fairly flat role that keeps him within his comfort zone for most of the plot. . Of course, Harry Styles appears and causes a few sighs in the air of a half-filled room.
According to what he told Vanity Fair, during pre-production Wilde gave the cast a list of reference books, articles, music and films: The Truman Show, The Origin, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the original 1960 version of The Great Con . In his second film, after the comedy Booksmart , Wilde ventured a change in tone with a result that feels like a cross between The Truman Show, The Apartment and The Matrix . Some subplots get wasted along the way, like Wilde herself or the ballet teacher/wife/role model.
Whose world is it?
The Victoria Project is in extension. A patch of desert prepares to receive more residents, but each arrival hides a dark secret that endangers anyone who has the wit to challenge the status and, consequently, the entire community. A construction of a world for them.
Wilde spoke at a press conference about his interest in making films like “Trojan Horse”. Films that have a deep meaning under the gloss and elegance of the surface.
A film –taking care not to commit spoilers– questions that ideal of the classic family of the American dream and points out the baseness of those who destroy the lives of women because of a pain in the ego. Those who believe they own their lives.
In this sense, Eloise Hendy wrote in an opinion piece for The Independent, about the link between the film and the trend towards the image of the “traditional wife” who knocks on the door. “Fifties fantasies about ‘the good old days’ are nothing new. They are the backbone of conservatism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy. But what is remarkable about the contemporary wave of tradwife is how its advocates have embraced the language of defiance and individual will; how conservatives frame themselves as radicals going against a liberal-feminist status quo. In this fantasy, the oppressed minority is her neoconservative wife and her traditional husband; The Red Pill Rebels.
The center of the matter is, in the film as in life, in consent and desire. That piece that comes to contrast the best friend that reveals and reveals itself.
The order of chaos
An enjoyable, beautiful film, largely due to the work of the technical areas. Known for his work on titles like Requiem for a Dream, The Black Swan, and even the recently acclaimed The Whale , the work of cinematographer Matthew Libatique strikes just the right balance between opulence, romance, and the raw sense of suffocation and despair. supported by the music of John Powell.
Production designer Katie Byron and costume designer Arianne Phillips – fresh from working on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – have superb plot weight. They wondered what a mid-century utopia would look like today, and the result is truly straight out of the Victoria Project catalogue.
Don’t worry, honey, it’s not the chaos some predicted, but the behind-the-scenes scramble might be more memorable than the two hours in the chair. A story that reminds us, once again, that if it’s too good, it probably isn’t true.