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Harry Styles ruined Don’t Worry Darling

Please stop putting pop stars in movies.

We, as a society, must stop pretending that Harry Styles is a good actor. I could end the article here, but I’ll go on.

Allow me to set the scene. The date: September 30, 2022. The location: Cineplex Odeon, South Edmonton Common. The occasion: this reporter’s birthday.

In an effort to find something equally fun and low-maintenance to do on the first day of my 21st year, my two friends and I decided to head to our nearest movie theatre to see Don’t Worry Darling. 

Thrilled by the drama of on-set gossip, we settled into our seats. We were ready — excited, even — to see what teen heartthrob Styles would deliver in his first big role since Dunkirk (2017). I’ve never been much of a fan, but I know to give credit where credit is due — the man is a great performer. Styles could dazzle even the staunchest of pop music haters. I was ready for him to do the same on the big screen. 

I sat in the middle of my two friends, both dedicated fans, and could physically feel the anticipation radiating off of them. It was something akin to mistakenly wandering into the middle of a One Direction concert. I didn’t really know any of the songs, but I was just happy to be there. We were all so excited, so young, and so innocent.

Don’t Worry Darling is objectively a movie with a lot of potential. It’s got it all: vintage cars, mysterious subplots, and a bunch of women with those funky Brigitte Bardot bouffant hairstyles. I’d argue that Olivia Wilde’s direction has gotten far too much flack. Most of Don’t Worry Darling’s scenes are visually captivating — or at the very least, entertaining. It’s a popcorn movie in its purest form. 

Florence Pugh is, as always, absolutely electric. Her depiction of Alice Chambers is equal parts tortured and vindictive — you understand from the first frame that her character is completely self-aware. She may appear to be a submissive housewife, but Pugh plays the character with a subtle complexity that helps save the script from being hopelessly misogynistic.

In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that Pugh’s acting carries the movie as a whole. My stomach pitched a little during the mirror scene in which Pugh doesn’t utter a line. She entrances the audience with only her expressions.

The film’s plot, however, certainly isn’t winning any awards for Best Original Screenplay — the plotline where Styles’ character is revealed to be a scheming, greasy-haired incel struck me as a little too predictable to make any sort of lasting impact. But, it’s colourful, fantastical, and a lot of fun to watch.

Except for the fact, that in the middle of it all, there’s Styles. It’s like a horrific car crash that you just can’t look away from. There were points in the movie where I had to physically turn away from the screen in order to shield myself from the unbearable second-hand embarrassment.

His acting — if we can call it that — brought every scene to a screeching halt. He’s awkward, inexperienced, and just far too entrenched in the public psyche as Styles, well-loved pop star. You can’t suspend reality and believe that he’s someone else. I just kept thinking: that isn’t a hardworking 1950s husband, that’s a pop star! That face knows how to use a cell phone! 

It felt like I was watching Don’t Worry Darling, starring Pugh, Gemma Chan, and some guy. While I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to judge someone’s acting while they’re performing alongside someone who’s literally been nominated for an Oscar, my opinion remains the same — Styles should not be an actor. End of story. 

Besides, isn’t being a Grammy-winning recording artist good enough? After watching Don’t Worry Darling, I’m not sure anyone can be both. You either die a pop star, or live long enough to see yourself become a really terrible actor.

Olivia O'Neill

Olivia O’Neill was the 2023-24 Opinion Editor at The Gateway. She’s in her fifth year of the English honours program. She loves popular culture, The Smiths, and collecting multiple copies of the same book. If she’s not reading or writing, Olivia can be found trying new recipes, logging movies on Letterboxd, or defending her favourite Gilmore Girls theories with her life. She is Team Jess.

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