Don’t Worry Darling (2022) Movie Explained: Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ has been in the works for a few years now. However, the kind of speed it gained through to its release has to either be an extremely talented PR strategy or a really unfortunate turn of events that will probably make the movie more memorable than it actually deserves to be.
Sliding right into our driveways, the much anticipated Florence Pugh and Harry Styles starrer is now in theatres. Telling the story of Jack and Alice; living in a stylish, experimental Utopian society named Victory in the 1950s, Don’t Worry Darling amps up its sexy quotient – both in terms of sex (however, this part doesn’t stand too right when you get to the bottom of it) and in terms of how gorgeous each frame looks, before its time to turn the switch and find the cracks.
The following articles look at some of the more interesting aspects of Don’t Worry Darling. It dives into many questions that might rig into a viewer’s mind as they watch it or reminisce about it later. So be aware that the article will dive into all of it in detail, and is full of spoilers.
Don’t Worry Darling Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The movie opens with a house party that Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and her husband Dean (Nick Kroll) have organized. The attendees include our protagonist Alice (Florence Pugh) and her husband Jack (Harry Styles) among other neighbors who all seem to be really close to one another.
All of them are ample drunk and while the men keep talking about how they are all really lucky to be a part of the Victory Project, all the women seem to indulge in internal gossip or play drinking games. Soon enough, Alice and Jack head out and have a fun driving session before heading back to their beautiful idyllic home to have some steamy sex.
The following morning, we see Alice cook breakfast for him as Jack gets ready and heads out for work at the exact same time as the other men. All of them get into their respective cars (all of which seem to belong to the exact same company gradient) and back them out of their driveways as the wives bid them goodbye.
The wives then engage in a sort of routine that includes cleaning every speck of dust in the house (this is shown through Alice’s POV but one can assume that it is the same in each house), cooking a three-course lavish meal for their husbands and getting ready to serves them the best return to home from work present – in the form of a glass of scotch and their bodies to be devoured.
Occasionally, their routine is punctuated by a to-and-fro to the community house – with aided swimming pool, the shopping mall – where live women are on display with a dress, and a ballet class that is headed and seen over by Shelley (Gemma Chan). She is a sort of rigid woman who seems to be hell-bent on making sure that the overall rhythm and routine of the town is maintained to the tee – sort of carrying forward the rules and regulations set by her husband and founder of this Utopia – Frank (Chris Pine).
Victory Town is surrounded by desert with Utopia feeling like a paradise in between. It feels like only posh people live there and there isn’t a hierarchy that divides the people. However, there’s only one hierarchy and that is following whatever Frank’s ideologies about changing the world are fed to them. His vague rambling play under the guise of loudspeaker announcements and everyone in the town is rendering themselves to follow it like it’s coming directly from a cult leader’s mouth.
The women are expected to just be very weary of their own houses and lives and not question what their husbands do for a living, and/or try to find out what happens beyond the crossroads that lead to the headquarters of the Victory Project. They are only told that their husbands are involved in ‘the development of progressive material,’ which considering the 1950s era could be the making of nuclear warfare or worse – something truly absurd that will get revealed later.
The real change of pace is about to occur soon, though. Like life’s many inevitabilities, the controlled bubble of this Utopia gets its first trigger when Frank organizes a party to welcome the newest members of the community – Bill (Douglas Smith) & Violet (Sydney Chandler). Everyone is present there and like always, all the men and women seem to be in complete awe of what Frank is doing with Victory Town. All of them welcome him like a sort of messiah who starts to lecture them about control and chaos and how the invisible forces that prevent the chaos are making things work for them in the town.
However, before he can proceed any further, one of the women Margaret (KiKi Layne), visibly anxious and disturbed, finds the courage to ask the question that all of them have been dreading to ask – What are we doing here? Her question should in all ways be like a ring of caution to everyone around, but everyone including her own husband takes it like her words are falling on deaf ears.
He takes her away from the party and Alice wanders off into Frank’s house to notice that Margaret’s husband is trying to force-feed her some pills that the Town doctor Dr. Collins (Timothy Simons) has prescribed her. She is angry and worried about the town’s whereabouts and Alice, for a brief second seems to show a sense of empathy towards her (while everyone else at the party doesn’t seem to have one or has lost it somewhere in the glitz and blitz of the town).
Anyway, Jack and Alice engage in another session of coetus – this time inside Frank’s house, with Frank looking over them creepily as Jack goes down on her. When Alice is back home, they briefly discuss Margret, but Jack shuts her down by saying that she has lost her marbles because she failed to follow the one rule set by Frank and went into the desert beyond the headquarters. Through flashbacks, we are also told that Margret lost her son when she was in the desert and that trauma has set her in a state of complete disfigurement.
However, this one incident sets something in motion within Alice as well. The first signs of discomfort appear when she sort of hallucinates where she sees images of women engaging in some kind of dance routine. These hallucinations are often dark and are punctuated with a loss of time for her. The next day, another weird thing happens. As Alice is preparing a meal, she finds that the eggs are completely empty from the inside – is that a direct metaphor for the empty life she has in Victory? But, more on that later.
When she is cleaning the house, the wall seems to close in on her, making it appear like she is being crushed. She also can’t breathe when the illusion shatters but decides to take a strand out of the home so that she gets some fresh air and have a break from her routine.
On her commute on the town’s lorry, she doesn’t get down at the mall when questioned by the driver and decides to just sit inside because it’s like a day off for her and she thinks that commuting to and fro on the lorry will do her good. However, when she is about to get to the end of the line, she witnesses a red plane losing its balance over the desert’s skyline. She follows the navigation for a while before she notices that the plane has crashed on a far-away, no man’s land.
She asks the lorry driver to take her near the crash site, but the driver completely freezes and tells her that he is not allowed to. Angry and stressed, Alice gets down and tries to follow the trail that she thinks the crashing plan must have taken before she reaches somewhere near the headquarters.
Surprisingly, she does not find the plane or any kind of wreckage as she walks through the desert to reach the front door of the headquarters. Trying to get help, Alice aligns her face to the headquarters’ glass opening, and the next we know, she is back at home waking up from a nightmare that had similar imageries as her hallucinations.
She doesn’t reveal that she crossed the limits of control to Jack and buries this incident inside her. However, the waking nightmares keep getting worse; she once notices a completely fucked out of her mind Margret on the top of her house and in spite of feeling like she should intervene, avoids the entire scenario on Bunny’s perusal.
However, the nightmares keep getting worse, and on one of her days at the ballet class, she notices a crack in the mirrors, only to realize that she is completely out of her mind after losing her way midway through rehearsal. This is a vision of Margret in the mirror and the images distress her and she runs out of the class to Margret’s house. But, before Alice could reach her, she notices that Margret has sliced her neck and fallen down from her terrace. Trying to reach her for help, Alice is cut short by a crew of men dressed in red, and before she could revolt, she passes out again, waking up in her house with Jack and Dr. Collins.
The Doctor talks to Alice and Jack about what must have happened to Alice. The two of them completely dismiss her thoughts about witnessing Margret slitting her throat. They say, that it must be one of Alice’s many delusions that she has been having as of late. For that, Dr. Collins prescribes her some pills that she must take, assuring her that Margret is alright and she and her husband have just moved out of town.
Alice is extremely sure that Margret has harmed herself, but when Dr. Collins tells her that Margret and her reactions have caused her husband her job at the Victory Project, so she keeps quiet for Jack’s sake. While talking to the Doctor, Alice notices a file that has Margret’s name on it. And when Collins forgets his suitcase, Alice swiftly steals the file before Collins comes back to take it. Later, she gets into the top-secrete file but since most of it has been blacked out, the only thing she could make out was Margret’s deteriorating mental health and none of the people at Victory giving two shits about it.
Alice makes sure that she is a dutiful wife to her husband, so when he asks her to get into her best dress to attend one of the big events organized by Frank she gleefully accepts it, in spite of not feeling 100%. At the event, for the first time, Alice actually seems to see a vision of her in a different life. She notices that she and Jack are living a pretty different life and the only visible interaction she can clearly make out is when she tells him that she will take up extra hours to make up for his lost job. Is this an interaction from their life before Victory? It isn’t quite clear, but the vision really disturbs her to the core.
Visibly anxious and in between one of the big announcements that Frank is about to make, she begs Jack to take her back home. Jack, who is completely stuck at Frank’s announcement, denounces her request by asking her to ‘calm down.’ In turn, Frank declares that they have promoted Jack and he will now be up with the seniors. While he presents Jack with a ring for his accomplishments, Alice is losing it and rushes into the facilities to try and keep herself in check.
On stage, Frank asks Jack to dance, and like a puppet he obliges. It almost feels like it is a direct metaphor for how all the strings in Victory are attached to Frank’s hands, and he is just puppeteering them all through. Meanwhile, Bunny reaches the facilities and instead of trying to help her, she tries to put some sense into her. She tells her to stop being so hysterical and to support her husband on his big night. Amazed by that reaction, Alice decides to keep it to herself until she is challenged and gaslighted by Frank at the dinner organized for Jack’s promotion at their place the very next day.
At the dinner, it seems like Alice has had it with Victory Town’s need for perfection. Upon being coaxed by Frank about her meltdown (which he admits to having heard from Bunny), she sets back on the controlling nature of the men in the town and decides to take center stage. She sits face to face with Frank and starts questioning all those things that the wives of the town are not supposed to ask. She also draws out a few peculiar similarities between how all of them landed in Victory and how their life before it was a complete blur.
The dinner ends when Shelly finally asks Alice to shut up and tells her to stop insulting her husband – someone who has created something extraordinary for them. While everyone else in the party also has some doubts in their minds, they all consider whatever Alice is saying to be a hysterical burst-out.
When everyone leaves, Alice, having shattered Jack’s reputation in front of everyone, tells him that there’s something truly wrong with Victory Town and that they should leave immediately. Jack, who is sad due to the turn of events agrees to whatever Alice says as he beckons to love her to the very end.
Don’t Worry Darling Movie Ending, Explained:
What is the truth behind Victory?
The ending of Don’t Worry Darling can be seen through Alice’s first real step to escape. As Alice packs up light and gets into the car with Jack in the driver’s seat, their escape is cut way short by the same Men in Red that were used to neutralize a ‘supposedly’ mad Margret.
Next, we see Alice receiving shock therapy. The reasons for this are not disclosed just yet, but these electroshocks are closely cut with the actual truth of who she is. We get a rundown of Alice and her husband Jack living in a modest apartment. It is the 20th Century and not the 1950s and Alice works late night shifts at the hospital in addition to her own shifts because Jack has recently lost his job.
Since Alice is completely exhausted from her job she doesn’t have time or the energy to be affectionate toward Jack. This is why Jack, who has nothing substantial to do is finding it difficult to connect to her. The cause of her work schedule creating a wedge between them is only one of the problems. Jack’s lack of joblessness has caused him to religiously follow the preaching videos of a personality named Frank (Chris Pine). Frank is someone who has developed a technology (or a program of some sort) that allows couples to live in an extremely evolved virtual reality – a simulation of a 1950s Utopia that screams perfection from the get-go.
While it is never explained or shown in great lengths, one can assume that Jack, who has lost all sense of control due to his fragile male ego, must have taken the step to force Alice into this experiment. For a brief second, we see Alice force-plugged into the simulations’ ground control, i.e their bed, as Jack enters into it too, strapped to the program’s unit, sleeping beside her.
In a montage that then clues us into more details about the simulation, we get to know that the entire thing doesn’t have Alice’s consent. It is something that Jack decides on his own, so as to get some kind of control over what Alice does.
In the simulation, Jack chooses to have a British identity and since there’s no other way to it, Alice’s entire memory is wiped off before she enters Victory as a citizen. We also learn later that, all the men in Victory have voluntarily joined in to be a member of Victory town, while their partners – the women have been held captive against their wills and have been uploaded into the simulation.
Now, after the montage ends, we see Alice, supposedly completely wiped off from her recent plans to escape returning back to her idyllic home. However, this time, the simulation and the lie don’t seem to carry on for too long as she gets triggered into reality as soon as she listens to the song that she keeps humming throughout the film. Everything flashes in front of her and she realizes that it was Jack who has been the culprit all along. She then proceeds to hit him over the head with a glass and dashes out of the house. When out of the house, she startles everyone and specifically tells them that they are controlled by the program that Frank has created and that they need to break free.
This is where we come to learn that out of all the women, only Bunny is aware of the truth behind Victory and that she agreed to sign up for it because in the real world, her children died and in Victory town, she gets to spend all her time with them. She, however, pushes Alice to escape and break the program’s control over her. She also explains that if killing the men in the simulation means killing them in real life too, so, the only way for her to survive will be to run away. Dean tries to stop Alice, but she gets in the car and drives off towards the key to Victory – the headquarters.
On her way, she is met by Frank’s henchmen, the cleaning crew dressed in red tries to capture Alice or possibly kill her – thereby also ridding her real-life body from ever waking up. An entire set piece is dedicated to Alice driving Jack’s car through the desert and sort of fighting the ingrained misogyny of Victory as Frank overhears every update over the radio.
This is when, Frank’s wife Shelly, who has also been overhearing all the updates decides to take a big step. Just when Frank is about to move out and deal with Alice on his own, she takes a kitchen knife and plunges it into his heart, killing him. Before she does that she also says that “It’s my turn now,” signifying a development that we will discuss below.
Meanwhile, Alice, who has been trying to fight all the men in red runs the last leg of her escape. Just when she is about to reach the window of the headquarter, she has one of her visions where she sees Jack asking her to stay in Victory and be with him. However, free from control and having developed a conscience of her own, Alice decides to take the leap and touches the glass of the headquarters window.
For a second the screen fades to black and before the film ends we briefly hear a woman gasping for air – signifying that Alice has teleported back to the real world.
Now that we are done with the ending bit, let’s look into some of the most burning questions that a viewer might have while/after watching Don’t Worry Darling. Please note that some of the queries that you might have, do not have a perfect and straightforward answer as the movie is greatly flawed or some things are kept ambiguous for a reason. So, all the answers that you will find hereby are mere speculations from my end.
What do the hollow eggs mean?
One of the early scenes and possibly the first sign of Victory’s secret has to be the hollow eggs that Alice notices while cooking breakfast one day. Bewildered, she raises one of them up to the light and crushes them with her hands, revealing that they are hollow inside.
This could mean one of two things. The hollow egg can be a glitch in the simulation – like the ones we often see in other virtual reality products. It can be a mistake that the programmer does while coding a program and a slight lapse in judgment or a hasty decision causes some part of the fake reality to show that it’s fake.
The other reason and a more metaphorical one could be that the hollow eggs signify infertility. Since none of the children in the Victory simulation are real, including the one that the ‘always-pregnant’ woman has, the hollow eggs may point to this imperfection in this supposedly perfect world.
What do the men actually do when they drive out every morning?
If you remember clearly, one of the sequences in the movie finds Jack telling Alice how miserable he is when he goes out each day for works, while Alice enjoys all the amenities provided to her.
While within the simulation, it is always noted that the men are involved in the ‘development of progressive materials,’ I think that driving out to the desert could only mean one thing. The men actually leave the simulation each day and have real-world jobs that help them support the life they have in Victory.
What do the constant earthquakes in Victory signify?
While one of the theories on the internet states that the earthquake signifies the moving train that passes around Jack and Alice’s real-world apartment, I disagree with that assessment because everyone else in Victory also feels the earthquake and not just Alice and Jack.
The reason that I find to be more suitable and accurate is a change to the simulation, i.e each time anyone leaves the simulation to wake up and operate in the real world, the earthquakes happen. Or it can also mean that the program that Frank has created either reboots or goes into maintenance for a brief period of time.
What is the significance of the red plane?
The other sign of a glitch in the matrix is when Alice notices a red plane crashing somewhere outside Victory Town. However, when she tries to reach it, she finds no wreckage or any sign of a crash. Later, we learn that Margret lost her child in the desert after she claims to have seen something in the skyline too.
While it is never explained if Margret also witnessed the plane crash and went looking for it, one can assume that something like this happened because, during the reveal, Alice’s illusion is close-cut with that of Margret’s son wandering in the desert with the same plane in a toy form.
Metaphorically speaking, the plane can either signify freedom or can also be a literal sign of Frank gaslighting the women of the town when they are trying to find their own voice and question his control over the town.
What was the meaning behind the dancing black-and-white interludes that Alice sees every now and then?
While for a large part of the movie we keep thinking that the waking nightmares or hallucinations that Alice is having feel really out of place with the black-and-white dancing interludes, a blink-and-miss scene would clue you to the answer. In the scene, one can notice that the dance routine is played on loop above the ceiling where the real-world Alice is strapped to the bed. The song that Jack sings breaking the reality for Alice and the dance routine can be seen as part of the hypnosis that is used to make sure that she remains in the simulation.
Did Frank’s wife Shelly know the truth about Victory?
When Shelly (Gemma Chan), Frank’s wife kills him with a knife in the third act it comes off as a shock. Not because it is something out of the blue, but because director Olvia Wilde hasn’t cushioned this sudden change in her demeanor by giving her character any depth.
When she says “It’s my turn now,” it remains unclear if like Bunny she too was a volunteer for the simulation. So, her killing Frank could mean one of two things – if she didn’t know the truth it is about her finally finding the courage to free herself like Alice, or if she did know the truth – it is about her trying to keep herself secure in the real-world from being held responsible for leading people into the simulation.
Since Shelly does feel a little bit sinister in her motives, I’d like to believe the latter to be true.