The anticipation of the release of Don’t Worry Darling, directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, has been fraught with controversy. Any doubts the movie would do poorly on its opening weekend, however, were quickly cast aside as it rose to number one at the box office.
The discourse surrounding the movie touches on a wide range of things from Shia LaBeouf’s involvement to Styles’ acting, to the relationship between Styles and Wilde.
Some have even gone so far as to suggest the controversy has been used purposely by the film’s creators to promote the film and increase its potential viewership.
Whatever the case, most conversations are now centering around Styles’ and Wilde’s relationship. The age difference between the two, how it may have caused tensions on set and how distant they seemed to be from each other throughout the premiere in Venice are just some of the topics being discussed.
In a male-dominated field such as the film industry, female directors like Wilde may face more scrutiny just because they are women.
It would not be surprising if Wilde has faced more criticism as a woman. “[I]t makes sense…that a woman would experience more backlash for a movie like this since they are constantly under a microscope,” said Amelia Price (’24).
On a similarly note, Wilde faces more scrutiny as a female director. “[S]he will continue to be confined by her sexuality, as [the] film exists in a patriarchal society,” said Haden Gross (’23).
Furthermore, male film directors have had a long history of dating their female leads. Some instances included a notable age difference and still received little to no criticism.
Even if Wilde is facing more criticism simply because she is dating one of the world’s most famous male singers right now, it is still important to consider the gender biases that may be in effect.
Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, was received very differently by critics, attaining an admirable 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and a solid seven point one out of 10 on IMDb.
Perhaps, some critics of Wilde have a problem with the subject matter of her newest film. This includes the constraints women of an idyllic 60s-era society are facing.
The movie, however, has not suffered any repercussions from the bad press. CNN reported they “opened to $19.2 million in North America [the weekend of September 23 and] …notched $30 million worldwide so far.”
While Don’t Worry Darling has only received 39% on Rotten Tomatoes and six point three out of 10 on IMDb, it has, nevertheless, pervaded our lives with the sheer amount of press surrounding the actors and creative team.
Whether more people will see the movie is up for debate. “As much as I want to see it, I do not want to support Olivia Wilde, financially or in general, so I will be watching it, but in a less conventional way,” said Price.
When it comes to movies these days, especially with social media, it is no surprise that a movie this heavily promoted with A-list actors and one of the world’s most famous singers could have caused this amount of contention. However, it is evident that some of the topics being discussed are not essential to determining the actual merits of the film.
While it may be fun to discuss all of the drama Don’t Worry Darling has caused, in the end, it really does not matter.
Hopefully, in the future, we can judge movies by their actual content and not the drama surrounding them.