Is Don’t Worry Darling a Book?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t Worry Darling is not a book, it is a 2022 psychological thriller film directed by Olivia Wilde.
  • The screenplay is by Katie Silberman, based on a spec script by Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, and Silberman.
  • It stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll and Chris Pine.
  • The story follows a housewife in an idyllic company town who suspects a sinister secret being kept from residents.
  • Don’t Worry Darling has received mixed reviews but has sparked significant media attention.

Don’t Worry Darling is one of the most talked about and anticipated films of 2022. But is it based on a book? Let’s take a comprehensive look at the details behind this psychological thriller.


Don’t Worry Darling is not actually based on a preexisting novel, despite bearing similarities to notable books like The Stepford Wives and TV shows like WandaVision. So where exactly did this mysterious tale of a retro utopia hiding sinister secrets come from?

This article will evaluate the origins and development of Don’t Worry Darling, analyzing how the screenplay took shape over time. We’ll explore the plot, characters, crew, and other key details about the film. You’ll discover the unique ideas and inspirations behind this highly original thriller.

Understanding the complete background of Don’t Worry Darling provides intriguing insights into how complex narratives can form without being adapted from literature. Whether you’re a film buff, psychological thriller fan, or simply curious about the buzz surrounding Don’t Worry Darling, this comprehensive guide has all the details you need. Let’s uncover the truth about this thought-provoking movie.

The Origins and Evolution of Don’t Worry Darling

How did the concept for Don’t Worry Darling first develop?

In 2019, writers Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke pitched an original screenplay concept to New Line Cinema called Don’t Worry, Darling. The script centered around a seemingly perfect 1950s utopia that hides a disturbing secret. New Line Cinema bought the spec script to develop into a feature film.

Silberman was brought on board to rewrite and refine the screenplay. Director Olivia Wilde signed on shortly after and helped shape the script further. While the core premise remained, Silberman and Wilde provided significant changes to deepen the psychological thriller and feminist aspects.

What inspirations influenced the story and themes?

Don’t Worry Darling draws inspiration from various books, shows, and films that explore misogyny and feminine oppression masked by utopian facades. Key influences include:

  • The Stepford Wives – The 1975 novel by Ira Levin and 2004 adaptation depict a suburban community where submissive housewives are replaced by obedient robots.
  • The Truman Show – The 1998 film follows a man unknowingly living in an constructed reality TV show.
  • WandaVision – The 2021 Marvel series centers on a mysterious retro-style suburban town hiding surreal secrets.
  • Gaslight – The 1944 psychological thriller coins the term “gaslighting”, a key theme of Don’t Worry Darling.
  • Inception – The 2010 film directed by Christopher Nolan was noted by Wilde as inspiration for visuals and tone.

How did the cast come together?

  • Florence Pugh was Wilde’s top choice for the lead role of housewife Alice, impressed by her performance in Midsommar.
  • Harry Styles signed on after impressing Wilde with his acting in Dunkirk. He took over the role of Jack from Shia LaBeouf, who departed due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Chris Pine joined shortly after as charismatic company leader Frank, along with other stars like Nick KrollGemma ChanKiKi Layne, and Olivia Wilde herself.

What is the basic plot summary?

Don’t Worry Darling is set in the 1950s in Victory, a utopian experimental community created by the mysterious Victory Project and company leader Frank. The town seems perfect, with the men working for the top-secret Victory Project while the women get to live a life of luxury at home.

Alice (Pugh) starts experiencing strange visions and unexplainable occurrences that make her question if everything is as perfect as it appears. As she seeks answers, those around her insist she is imagining things and should stop asking questions for the good of the community.

Alice realizes the deeper truth is sinister and powerful forces are conspiring to keep the residents under control. But can she expose the disturbing secrets without becoming a target herself?

Analyzing Key Details and Themes

What is the significance of the film’s unique setting?

Don’t Worry Darling takes place in the idyllic fictional town of Victory, deliberately designed in the style of 1950s suburban utopian communities. The retro stylings and gender dynamics are crucial to exploring the underlying themes:

  • On the surface, Victory evokes nostalgia for a “simpler time”. But it represents the oppression of traditional gender roles.
  • The setting underscores how misogyny and conformity can lurk beneath a polished “perfect” facade.
  • The period details act as metaphors for regressive ideals of femininity and masculinity.
  • Alice’s evolving perspective as she awakens mimics society awakening to feminist ideals.

By depicting the “dream life” promised to housewives of the 1950s, the film lays bare dualities between nostalgia versus progress and illusion versus empowerment.

What genres does Don’t Worry Darling encompass?

Psychological thriller – Alice experiences chilling visions and mind-bending reveals as she unravels Victory’s illusions.

Mystery – Cryptic clues and strange occurrences deepen the enigma around Victory’s true purpose.

Dystopian fiction – Victory’s dark underbelly hidden by utopian trappings provides scathing social commentary.

Drama – Complex characters grapple with shifting relationships, identities and realities.

Blending these genres creates an unsettling, thought-provoking narrative exploring trust, betrayal, and liberation.

How does it incorporate themes of feminism?

Don’t Worry Darling centers feminism in various symbolic and explicit ways:

  • Alice’s awakening represents women breaking free of societal conditioning and oppression.
  • The retro setting alludes to regressive ideals still relevant today through metaphor.
  • Alice’s experiences parallel gaslighting tactics used to undermine women’s realities.
  • The wives represent aspects of internalized misogyny present even in feminism movements.
  • Alice’s defiance exposes weaknesses in the supposed masculine strength of Jack and Frank.
  • The wives turning conformity into a source of their own power reflects evolving feminist ideals.

Ultimately, Don’t Worry Darling weaves together the personal and political to examine systems of inequality and female empowerment.

What filmmaking techniques help create a sense of mystery and tension?

Director Olivia Wilde utilizes various cinematic elements to craft an unsettling tone and aura of mystery:

  • Tracking shots following Alice through the orderly town accentuate her isolation.
  • Contrasting Victory’s glossy exterior with the Electric Lemon’s gritty interior.
  • Alice’s unexplainable visions shown through quick editing and disjointed angles.
  • The repetitive spirals carved into the desert, alluding to being trapped.
  • Stylized lighting that makes scenes seem artificially constructed.
  • A stirring orchestral score with hints of subversive notes woven in.

The combination of odd clues and dreamlike sequences immerses the viewer in Alice’s psychological state as she unravels Victory’s facade.

Critical Response and Significance

What has the critical response been to Don’t Worry Darling?

Don’t Worry Darling has received mixed but passionate responses from critics:

  • It holds a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 57% on Metacritic, indicating somewhat polarizing reviews.
  • Positive reviews praise the visuals and performances while criticizing the messy plot.
  • Multiple critics highlight Florence Pugh’s central performance as the film’s strength.
  • Negative reviews cite issues with plotting, character development, and thematic focus.
  • Most agree Don’t Worry Darling shines more in individual moments than as a cohesive whole.

While not universally acclaimed, Don’t Worry Darling undeniably creates intrigue and sparks discussion on its themes.

Why has it made such an impact outside of reviews?

Beyond critical analysis, Don’t Worry Darling has permeated pop culture for other reasons:

  • Florence Pugh and Harry Styles’ fame and chemistry attracted significant attention.
  • Olivia Wilde’s personal controversies and statements heightened media buzz.
  • Debates over sexism in how Pugh was treated during production.
  • Divisive discourse over whether it succeeds as a feminist story.
  • Curiosity regarding the differences between initial script and final film.

Overall, Don’t Worry Darling provokes debate on art versus gossip, celebrity, and societal issues. The discourse reveals our collective intrigue with the dark underbelly of perfection.


In summary, Don’t Worry Darling is not based on existing source material but is an original psychological thriller that evolved from a spec script by the Van Dyke brothers. Katie Silberman and Olivia Wilde reinvented the screenplay into a stylish feminist fable exploring misogyny masked by nostalgia and conformity.

Blending mystery, dystopian fiction, and drama, Don’t Worry Darling delivers an unsettling yet thought-provoking experience. While divisive and imperfect, it succeeds in sparking discussion about societal ideals, relationships, and liberation. For any psychological thriller fan, the journey to uncover Victory’s secrets will linger long after the credits roll.

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