- Olivia Wilde’s film “Don’t Worry Darling,” starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, is in theaters.
- The plot of the psychological thriller becomes convoluted and crumbles during the final half hour.
- “DWD” ends on a cliffhanger. We compare it to the original script’s ending.
Olivia Wilde’s highly anticipated psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” is finally in theaters, and it’s guaranteed to leave fans with plenty of questions.
The movie stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as Alice and Jack Chambers, a couple that lives in an eerily perfect town in the California desert in the ’50s.
While Jack and the other men in the neighborhood go off to work every day at the mysterious Victory Project helmed by Chris Pine’s cult-like leader Frank, Alice and her fellow housewives spend their time cleaning, shopping, gossiping, dancing, and preparing dinner for their husbands.
The women are asked for discretion above all else and discouraged from questioning the details of the Victory Project.
It’s a life that seems too good to be true. When strange things begin happening to Alice that she can’t shake, the facade starts to disintegrate.
As she starts questioning what the men actually do at the top-secret headquarters the plot slowly comes into focus.
But the storyline gets messy near the end of the film and then it all sort of falls apart.
The movie is gripping until the final 30 minutes when the plot crumbles
Wilde’s direction and the beautiful aesthetics of the film entice audiences from the start. Pugh’s stellar performance keeps moviegoers on their toes as she gradually pieces together what’s actually going on.
During a contentious dinner in celebration of Jack’s promotion at work, Alice calls out Frank about what’s really happening — only to be gaslighted.
From there, the storyline revs up and the plot unfolds in a rushed manner.
After the dinner fiasco, Alice reiterates to Jack that she loves and believes in him, but doesn’t trust Frank or Victory. Jack reluctantly agrees to flee with her that evening but as they get into the car, it’s revealed that he snitched on her and Victory’s henchmen in red jumpsuits are coming to take Alice away.
When we see Alice again, she’s strapped to a seat undergoing shock therapy. Through fragments of memories and flashbacks, the audience learns that Alice and Jack are living in a simulation.
In reality, Jack and Alice were a couple living in a crappy apartment trying to make ends meet.
Alice was a surgeon who worked long shifts in the operating room while 29-year-old Jack, sporting glasses and facial hair, spent his time at home listening to Frank’s preachings on YouTube about an ideal modern society.
Jack, taking matters into his own hands, decides that he and Alice should join the Victory Project.
He agrees to undergo a psychological evaluation as well as physical and medical changes — like a haircut and shock therapy to suppress their real memories — before they’re put in the simulation. Jack gets to customize aspects of his simulation identity and chooses a British nationality for himself.
By making the choice for Alice to live in this perfect simulation, Jack takes away her autonomy.
More of the big reveal is explained via Wilde’s character Bunny when Alice returns home after she is mentally “fixed” in the ’50s time period.
After Alice confronts Jack for taking her choice and her life away from her in the real world, he argues that he saved her because she seemed miserable from constantly working.
As their argument escalates, Jack tells her that he hates every minute of his Victory job (with audiences still unclear about what exactly his work entails), but he does so in order for Alice to live a happy life as a housewife.
When Jack tries to hold onto Alice, she smashes a glass on his head, killing him. Bunny walks in to see Jack dead and explains to Alice that if a person dies here, they die in the real world, too.
Bunny also reveals that she’s always known about the true nature of the Victory Project. She willingly chose to be here because, in the real world, her children are dead. But here, they’re alive and she gets to spend time with them.
As Alice drives away in Jack’s car to attempt another escape, she’s pursued by the Victory men in red jumpsuits. Meanwhile, Frank gets real-time updates from the men who work for him and learns that Alice is headed toward the exit. He tells them that she can’t be allowed to leave.
Shelley (Gemma Chan), Frank’s loyal and supportive wife, suddenly stabs Frank in the chest and twists the knife in. She calls him a “stupid, stupid man” and says, “it’s my turn now.” But the movie never unpacks Shelley’s motive or game plan.
When Alice finally reaches the exit door, she sees a vision of Jack hugging her and telling her “don’t leave me.” But she carries on and presses her hands to the mirrors with both hands.
The film cuts to a brief montage of moments, including Bunny with her kids, Alice dancing, and the black-and-white scenes of the female dancers.
Then, the screen goes black. A gasp from Alice is heard and the film ends with the title card.
The ending was a lot clearer in the original script
The script for “Don’t Worry Darling” was written on spec by Carey and Shane Van Dyke (the grandsons of Dick Van Dyke). It found major industry attention when it was selected as one of the best unproduced scripts of the year in the 2019 Black List.
That caught the attention of Wilde, who set her sights on it being her next directing effort after her acclaimed 2019 movie “Booksmart.” She nabbed the script, hired “Booksmart” screenwriter Katie Silberman to do a rewrite, and after a bidding war, Warner Bros’ New Line Cinema shingle bought the project.
Within that time, something major happened. Silberman (likely, we assume, with notes from Wilde) completely overhauled the ending of the movie.
A major critique of ours after seeing it is how convoluted the ending is and going back and reading a version of the script by the Van Dykes before the rewrites, it turns out their finale was much stronger.
Why did Silberman and Wilde tinker with it? Only they know. But that wasn’t the only change made. The Victory Project and Chris Pine’s Frank character were not in the original script and the rewrites gave the movie a stronger female perspective on the story and characters.
But when it came to the ending, a complete overhaul was done.
In the script’s ending, the big reveal that Alice (who is named Evelyn in the script) is hooked up to some machinery that puts her in an alternate reality is more fleshed out.
She returns back to reality in the Van Dykes’ script not through getting shock treatment, like in the movie, but comes across an exit portal back to the real world which is disguised as a house for sale.
Hooked to a machine and IV, she gets out of bed and crawls to escape from wherever she is. She learns that she’s in their apartment in the future. 2050 to be exact. Not only that, she finds a certificate of divorce with their names on it.
She gets in front of a futuristic computer and learns all about a company called “Alt-Life” in which a man can live in a cyberspace that resembles 1950s suburban America where “a world controlled by women” no longer exists. All the man has to do is fake his wife’s death and strap her to the machine so she can share the experience with him.
Alice then finds articles saved with headlines about her going missing, the police searching for her, and finally thousands mourning when the search is called off.
Alice hears Jack (named Clifford in the script) return home and plugs herself back into the 1950s before he’s aware she escaped.
Back in the 1950s, Alice attempts to escape for good but Jack figures out what is going on and, along with the other men in the town, takes her to the hospital where she undergoes shock therapy.
Things go back to how they were, with Alice being the submissive housewife. But it’s all a ploy. One night while seducing Jack, she knocks him out with a shovel. He wakes tied to their bed. She pours scalding hot coffee on him. She reveals she knows all about Alt-Life but Jack says he has no idea what she’s talking about until she attempts to ram a broomstick handle up his behind. Jack then finally admits they are living in a simulation. When she asks him why he did it, Jack says he just wanted them to be happy again and that her work became more important, which led to their divorce.
Jack tells Alice where the exit portal in their house is back to 2050. She leaves him and goes back to the future. Meanwhile, Jack finds a knife and cuts himself free from the bed.
Alice is in their home in 2050 when Jack appears. They have a physical fight that ends with Alice stabbing him with a kitchen knife.
Back in the 1950s, Bunny (named Betsy in the script) finds Jack dead and Alice unconscious next to him. Alice wakes back up in a hospital in the 1950s. She’s told that she killed her husband and she dreamed up a future “where women were empowered.”
In the final scene, Alice sits in the courtyard of a psychiatric ward. Bunny comes to visit. Previously, Alice tried to convince Bunny they were inside a simulation to no avail. Bunny shows up with flowers and before she leaves leans in and whispers to Alice that there’s an exit portal right behind them. Bunny leaves and Alice, in a sign of renewed life, begins to slowly head towards a door.
The movie ends.