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Review | Florence Pugh steals the stage in ‘Don’t Worry Honey,’ available on HBO Max

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Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed teen comedy “Out of the Box,” which became one of the sensations of 2019 and launched a career of endless potential for the filmmaker. Three years later, Wilde returns to helm the psychological and dystopian thriller ‘Don’t Worry, Honey’, which is now available on HBO MAX after making its official debut at the Venice Film Festival, surrounded by controversy in backstage. The feature may even have its issues, but, in the end, it comes across as a practical and satisfying journey – which, if not taken seriously, is a good option to watch on weekends.

The story takes us to the idyllic and warm Victoria, California, a place structured by a technological company that wants to achieve perfection. In the center of this city, we begin to follow the not too banal daily life of Alice (Florence Pugh), a typical woman in charge of taking care of household chores while her husband, Jack (Harry Styles), goes to work and brings the sustenance for the home – that is, a narrative that apparently explains the gender disparity of the 1950s in a playful and didactic way. However, while everyone around her seems content with the life thrust upon them, Alice begins to experience a sort of psychotic breakdown that helps her unlock a dark secret behind the town and the mysterious scheme in which Jack and all the other spouses work. .

The whole atmosphere of the feature film is based on the 1950s, a precise technical choice which contributes to the reproduction of a growing anxiety which takes hold of the protagonist and which is transmitted to the spectators. We have the nostalgia for the googie architecture brought to each of the residences, the classic silhouette-delineated dresses, and the contrast of cold and warm colors that transform the mood into an ambiguous confinement – accompanied by the arc of self-realization of ‘Alice and her Consecutive Purge. However, it’s sometimes remarkable that Wilde and his creative team lean too heavily on imagery concepts rather than equating them with the script as often.

Make no mistake about it: the film is not as bad as some texts say – and deserves to be appreciated in the restrained messages that it wants to convey. After all, Alice discovers that the world she knows is gradually changing when she crosses paths with Margaret (KiKi Layne), a woman who is treated like an outcast by her neighbors and who, in a creepy constant, tries to warn Alice that she needs to get out of there before it’s too late. But flee what? Memories of a distant past that persist in sticking together in a prefabricated reality? Or with everyone starting to treat her like crazy after she dared to wonder what’s beyond the dangerous desert that surrounds the city?

Wilde prints his vision as best he can, betting chips on a repeat that matches Alice’s claustrophobic feeling, whose walls are heaving at the inability to escape and, on top of that, makes a return to the role of Bunny, one of the main character’s friends. who has his own problems and is thrust into a journey of redemption that doesn’t quite work out. And it’s remarkable how the cast, which includes Chris Pine and Gemma Chan, exist for Alice’s sake, as parts of an intricate chess game that holds the key to an almost intangible salvation. . Ultimately, it’s Pugh who stays true to the film’s desired pace, giving herself body and soul to the role and reiterating her enviable versatility as one of the greatest actresses of our time (having already done clapping work with ‘ Midsommar’ and ‘Little Women’, for example). It’s this passionate tour de force with which Pugh works that partly obscures the work’s problems.)

Enjoy watching:

As already said, the product is pleasant, especially when you don’t take yourself seriously. We have the thematic forays into gaslighting and machismo that permeate the main plot, but there’s not enough openness for them to be explored in depth, leaving a bittersweet taste in the credits. And, while the opening acts demonstrate an intriguing and compelling idiosyncrasy, the ending leaves something to be desired for not knowing where to go and rushing to a headless conclusion.

By the time the feature film is at the heart of the thriller genre, the most divisive clashes seem to fade away – and it’s that marred beauty that audiences need to stick to. In fact, it’s possible to see that Wilde doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel, allowing references to works like ‘Perfect Women’ and ‘The Village’, but when seriousness starts to speak louder things get complicated. And Styles, cast as Pugh’s love interest, doesn’t seem to know what to make of the role he’s been given, disappearing into the limelight in an over-the-top caricature that doesn’t know how to balance the many facets we’d like to see. on the big screen.

“Don’t Worry Honey” could be much better, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time. The elements that work are strong enough to hold our attention and fly the two hours by – but there’s no denying that the slip-ups tarnish the production and make us imagine ways to improve the narrative.

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