Don’t Worry Darling

by Katie Silberman (screenplay) Carey Van Dyke (story) Shane Van Dyke (story)
Directed by Olivia Wilde

I want to add my two cents because this has been getting some bad reviews and a lot of the invented arguments over Harry Styles spitting on Chris Pine, and Florence Pugh fighting with Olivia Wilde are overshadowing what is a really good movie.

One of the things the story does really well is constantly leave you feeling like you don’t know what’s going on, but you have a slight sense that it’s nefarious. It seems like it takes place in the 1950s, and there are some overhead sonic booms that make you think all the men in this town work for a defense company. There’s a huge amount of secrecy, even between the men, but it’s a patriarchal heaven, sort of. The women all stay at home to clean the house and then cook massive hearty meals and be there ready with a drink for when their husbands return home from a long day at work to pleasure them. (Incidentally, only Florence Pugh is seen to be pleasured, because the focus of this movie is not on the men, but on the women.) The fact that it’s set in the 50s more or less hides some of the stranger aspects. The town is a circle, with a line bisecting it, in the middle of a California dessert that looks larger and more barren than anything I’ve seen in California. The women have unlimited credit and can buy anything they want from a department store that is at the center of this town. But they can only use the trolley to get around. They are not allowed to drive. They are not allowed to go into the desert. When they talk about what the men do at their work, it’s said they make “progressive materials,” which is meaningless. Led by John (Chris Pine) who seems to be somewhat of a cult leader, he offers them lines like, “We are changing the world,” or “We are not going back.” So you get a sense of a militia at times, and then a sense of a white supremacy kind of culture, except that there are a few minorities mixed in (one of whom is a Cassandra of sorts and says, “What are we doing here? We don’t belong here?” which gets Florence Pugh’s character thinking, and wondering what are some of these hallucinations she’s having. Later she sees her friend slit her own throat and fall backwards off the roof of her house, and that’s more or less when the problems start to set in.)

Anyway, despite all the negative reviews and people gossiping about Olivia Wilde, at the theatre in which I saw it, there wasn’t a cough, not a single person looked at their phone, and it was so quiet at times, I actually noticed it. I don’t even remember a single person getting up to go to the bathroom. And I noticed that I, myself, was having so many different responses trying to understand the strangeness of this place and these people, I too, was uncharacteristically not fidgeting. (I usually cross and recross my legs constantly, and often I can’t stop biting my nails, when I watch a movie.) This had me rapt. And when the reveal finally came, it was shocking and very satisfying. And the story behind this artificial planned community is as relevant today as it might have been back then: the subjugation of women. In Iran, right now, women and men are both revolting at the theocracy that took over when I was in college, which was basically aimed at subjecting women to brutality and turning them back into second class citizens. In the U.S. the Republicans are doing the opposite, in trying to criminalize women’s health care and eventually attacking non-heterosexual sexuality. Gore Vidal once said that we, as a society, had not stopped moved beyond the two methods of creating a civilization: the subjugation of women and the control of sexuality. In this town of Victory, led by a strange cultist, women are property and are not even allowed to drive (hints of Saudi Arabia). And just as fittingly, there are no homosexuals in Victory.

I think men really just need to shut the fuck up.

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