Don’t Worry Darling – REVIEW & COCKTAIL

Alright, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. The big controversy. The unshushable drama that has floated over this film like a Jean Jacket cloud for months. 

Nick Kroll is in this film, and somehow I wasn’t plagued with visions of Coach Steve from Big Mouth every time I saw him. 

In all seriousness though, what a stacked dirt sheet this film had prior to its release. The top star allegedly on bad terms with the director, the leading actor replacing a known abuser, who then became entangled in an affair with the director, who was already married to Ted Lasso. Before this film ever even hit the screen, people had most likely made up their minds on how they’d feel about it. But I would never risk my own, highly regarded integrity on such assumptions. I mean, director Olivia Wilde’s first feature film, Booksmart, is a film I really enjoyed. Plus this film stars one of my absolute favorite actresses working today in Florence “Miss Flo” Pugh. And also, Harry Styles is here too. My wife would be remiss if I didn’t mention that. What I’m getting at is that I want a film like this to succeed. And truthfully, this film has many successes. The performances for the most part are pretty great, the film looks gorgeous in both its cinematography and set-design, and it can actually be a little surprising where it takes its mystery.

But when you get down to the meat and potatoes of it…it wasn’t nearly as unique as I was hoping. The premise, twists and underlying themes don’t exactly come together in a very satisfying or cathartic way, leading to a film that felt a tad too familiar for my taste.

Florence Pugh as Alice (left) and Harry Styles as Jack (right)

Let’s circle back to the positive first. Florence Pugh, to the surprise of no one who has a clue, is fantastic. She’s completely believable in her downward spiral as she continues to be gaslit by those around her into believing there’s nothing out of the ordinary in their perfect little lives in the Victory Project. Her descent into self-doubt eventually ignites her rebellion against a conformity the Project itself claims to be rebelling against. If you’ve seen Midsommar you know just how capable Florence is at capturing uneasiness and emotional damage through her pained, expansive facial expressions, which are out in full force here. While she is certainly the backbone of the film, there are some solid supporting performances, including Chris Pine as Frank, the shady architect of the Victory Project. His smug self-importance makes him a solid antagonist, and while I don’t think we really get enough of where this character could go, I did at least enjoy what we got out of him. And I guess I should talk about Harry Styles, who…look I think you guys have been a bit mean towards his performance. Truthfully I think he does an okay job, it’s just that he can’t even hope to stand against some of the other seasoned actors alongside him. He’s a small fish in a very big pond that has some merits, but his talents are absolutely dwarfed by the bigger fish. He doesn’t even really sing here. Seemed like an easy win there. He does dance, which….let’s not talk about it.

The film is at least pleasant to look at, with vibrant colors and some intriguing visual ideas I only wish had more depth to them. That’s the issue I keep coming back to. The ideas at work here could have worked, but the world the film builds upon feels disappointingly half-baked and uninspired. The retro setting doesn’t really bring more to the table beyond it’s obvious themes of the toxic masculinity of a world dominated by men. Once you’re finally let it on what the world truly is, it still feels under-developed and a tad too obvious. An obvious destination isn’t always a bad thing, but after seeing many other films with similar premises, it does little to spark much substantial commentary beyond what you already guessed from the beginning. While it’s visuals are intriguing to look at, many of them feel like they’re existence is only there to be unsettling or strange, never tying into a greater purpose beyond shocking the viewer.

Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed in this one. While there is some competence in the technicals and the acting, it mostly falls flat thanks to underdeveloped world building and a predictable story that leads to an expected yet unsatisfying ending. Yet no matter how lackluster this film turned out to be, I think we can all agree on one thing: It’s better off for not having Shia LaBeouf in it.

Rating

(out of a possible 5 happy pills)

Visions of Victory

The 1950s weren’t exactly ushering us into a new age of memorable cocktails. I mean, do you remember the last time someone even ordered a Pink Squirrel? Do you even know what the hell that is? While the 50s may not have been revolutionary towards the development of our favorite drinks, they sure as hell at least enjoyed the classics. For me, the 50s generates images of pinstripe suits and big hair, and in the hand, a classy, sophisticated drink packed with enough spirits to help them forget they were on the potential cusp of full-on nuclear war.

My cocktail, Visions of Victory, takes inspiration from the time period and many of the cocktails we see our characters indulge in throughout the film. It contains gin, one of the most popular spirits at the time, along with a few raspberries to bring in some natural sweetness, some dry vermouth to balance it out, and a body of bubbling rose champagne. It’s a solid encapsulation of many of the hottest ingredients of the time, and one that just might take over your pretty little life.

Ingredients

  • 1.5oz vodka
  • 3oz Rose champagne
  • 1/2oz dry vermouth
  • 5 raspberries
  • 3 dashes Orange bitters
  • Garnish: Cherry

Instructions

  1. Add vodka, bitters, vermouth and raspberries to mixing glass.
  2. Muddle raspberries thoroughly.
  3. Add champagne to the glass with ice, then stir to chill.
  4. Double strain into chilled coup glass.
  5. Drop cherry into glass.

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