Olivia Wilde’s Second Feature Receives Lukewarm Reviews Ahead of Theatrical Opening – The Oberlin Review
Olivia Wilde’s second directing project, don’t worry darling, is set to hit theaters later this month. However, don’t worry darlingThe recent media coverage of has had little to do with the film itself and much more with the ever-escalating conflict between the production team, cast members, and former cast members.
Face-spitting allegations, social media snubs, publicly released custody documents, age-gap relationships and musician-turned-actors — not to mention the peripheral involvement of the ever-incendiary Shia LaBeouf — have crescendoed. into a public relations nightmare of staggering proportions.
don’t worry darling was first announced in 2019, and the behind-the-scenes show began shortly
after. In September 2020, Shia LaBeouf left the cast, citing “scheduling conflicts”, and megastar Harry
Styles quickly stepped into the male lead. The former member of the glam-rock boy band had to
star alongside powerhouse actress Florence Pugh, while Chris Pine, Dakota Johnson and Nick Kroll
took on supporting roles.
It seemed like don’t worry darling would be a surefire hit thanks to its celebrity cast and
the acclaim and commercial success of Olivia Wilde’s first film Library in 2019. However,
The drama surrounding the film’s production began to stir after Wilde split from her adorable mustachioed fiancé, Jason Sudeikis, in November 2020. The couple released a statement that they had amicably parted ways and would continue to co-parenting their two children. Two months later, Wilde and Styles were
spotted acting like a couple at a wedding, and their relationship was quickly confirmed as romantic.
Some Styles fans criticized Wilde due to the 10-year age gap and Wilde’s role as Styles.
director, while others have called such criticism unfair, noting that countless male directors have
engaged in similar relationships. Still other fans dismissed Wilde and Styles’ pairing as an elaborate PR stunt. Needless to say, the pair have garnered some media attention – Styles’ love life is a popular subject of scrutiny for Twitter and the tabloids.
In April 2022, a year after Sudeikis and Wilde split, Wilde received custody papers from
Sudeikis while delivering a speech on don’t worry darling at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and the bad
the blood became evident.
Around the same time LaBeouf was removed from the project, he was also making disturbing comments
securities. His former partner FKA Twigs filed a lawsuit against him, citing “relentless abuse” and sexual abuse.
battery. He also recently admitted to lying about child abuse in his semi-autobiographical film
Honey boy. A month after news of LaBeouf’s lawsuit, Variety reported that LaBeouf was, in fact,
“dropped out of the film” due to “bad behavior”, stating that “his style clashed with the cast and crew”,
including Wilde, who eventually fired him.
The legitimacy of this claim would soon be called into question. In August 2022, LaBeouf told Variety
that he was not fired at all; he actually “left the film due to lack of rehearsal time”. LaBeouf backed up his version of the story with texts and videos of Wilde trying to convince him to stay in
despite Pugh’s insecurities about him. So, was Wilde actually protecting her female lead from a volatile and obnoxious costar? Or was she just trying to save her own image by telling the story of
The departure of LaBeouf to pretend to be nice in the eyes of the press?
Pugh did little to defend Wilde against libel. She also did little to promote Don’t
don’t worry darling on his social networks, leading many to believe that there had been a falling out between
Pugh and Wilde, thriving in a kind of cold war. One of the few statements Pugh made about the film was a complaint about the over-emphasis on her and Styles’ sex scenes.
“When it’s down to your sex scenes, or seeing the most famous man in the world go down
on somebody, that’s not why we’re doing it,” Pugh said. “That’s not why I’m in this industry. Obviously, the nature of
hire the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. It’s just not
what I’m going to discuss because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who
makes it bigger and better than that.
Fast forward to today: the cast of don’t worry darling had a tumultuous press panel at the start
this month. Pugh was a non-presenter. Styles, perhaps one of the most high-profile celebrities in recent history, has said some ridiculous and ineloquent things about don’t worry darling during interviews,
an example being, “My favorite thing about this movie is, like, it feels like a movie.”
Meanwhile, Chris Pine seemed to disassociate himself as he sported, according to Twitter, a “female first prime
bleached blonde bob minister style of a European nation. Styles and Wilde appeared to keep their distance on the red carpet, which sparked breakup rumors. And, of course, there was “Spitgate”, a
music video in which Styles appeared to spit on Pine, which was dissected endlessly on social media. The film festival was an absolute PR disaster.
Amid all the scrutiny and hype, critics called the film visually stunning and yet
conceptually uninspired. Will all this media attention do don’t worry darling a more successful
media than it otherwise would be? don’t worry darling is a superficially disastrous project, but it is sensational, and therefore has a twisted kind of success regardless of its quality. In our attention economy where mental focus equals capital, a movie doesn’t have to be good. Just talk about it.
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