Everyone’s obsessed with “Don’t Worry Darling’s” Venice premiere: Here’s why

"Olivia Wilde" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Venice International Film Festival, hosted by La Biennale di Venezia and directed by Alberto Barbera, is the world’s oldest film festival, dedicated to promoting international cinema as both entertainment and an industry. Taking place this year from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, the festival was set to premiere many long-awaited films, including Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling.”

Based on a story by Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke and Katie Silberman, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a psychological thriller following Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice (Florence Pugh) Chambers, a happy couple living in the perfect town of Victory, California. Their livelihood is covered by the “Victory Project,” a mysterious company which Jack works for. As Alice’s curiosity about the company intensifies, their utopian life begins to crumble, exposing tensions and secrets within their community.

Commenting on the film’s marketing so far, third-year sports administration and creative advertising major Isabella Lozano said, “The plot also seems interesting, like it’s not the typical 50s/60s slice of life; it has something fishy going on. The trailer scares me a bit.”

The film premiered at the festival on Monday, Sept. 5, and the internet hasn’t stopped buzzing about it since. Not for its cinematic prestige, but for all the celebrity drama surrounding it.

As the stars touched ground in Venice for the pre-premiere press conference, the name cards displayed set the stage for the chaos to come. Wilde and Styles were seated on opposite ends — an unusual set-up since a film’s director and lead actor typically sit together. In between them sat co-stars Gemma Chan and Chris Pine, who Twitter quickly coined as the “buffers.”

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One name card, however, was nowhere to be seen: that of the film’s leading lady, Pugh. While Wilde pinned Pugh’s absence on her filming schedule, social media users speculated that the true reason lies in the ongoing conflict between Wilde and Pugh.

Fans have concluded that although Wilde has done nothing but praise Pugh, the actress could not feel more opposite. Statements were leaked of Pugh considering Wilde’s work unprofessional due to her rumored romance with Styles while dating ex-partner Jason Sudeikis.

Not only that, a recently-leaked video showed Wilde begging Shia Labeouf — who was allegedly released from the lead role of Jack Chambers due to conflict and assault accusations — to return to the film, claiming that his return would be “a wake-up call for Miss Flo.” Fans online took the statement as condescending and derogatory to Pugh, who has recently climbed the Hollywood ranks and established herself as a serious, talented young actress.

Short of its leading lady, the press conference took social media by storm for all its meme-worthy content. Harry Styles quickly went viral for his vague answers to what many considered simple questions.

“You know, my favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie. It feels like a real, like, you know, ‘go to the theater’ film movie,” Styles said to a reporter.

This response turned media focus to Pine, who sat directly beside Styles. During the press conference, reporters did not direct any questions to Pine, who seemed to disassociate and stare unflinchingly at the floor. While the unbothered actor sat on the sidelines, the extremely media trained Wilde swiftly deflected questions related to the ongoing rumors and drama.

And just like that, the painful press conference ended and the premiere began. With a shameless Instagram post captioned “I’m here,” Pugh surprised the masses with her Venice arrival, taking the red carpet alongside her co-stars. As anticipated, interactions at the premiere were just as odd, with Styles, Pugh and Wilde fueling the online rumors with their awkward position and lack of close proximity to each other.

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Despite these awkward interactions, the rest of the premiere was amicable and supportive. Heartwarming moments were captured including Pugh bringing her grandmother “Granzo Pat” onto the carpet for photos and Pine dropping to one knee to capture Pugh on his disposable camera.

The stars then settled into their seats to watch the movie, once again utilizing their “buffer” order. A short clip went viral almost a day after the premiere. The video depicts what looks like Styles spitting into Pine’s lap, who then looks down and laughs in response to some sort of inside joke between the two. It is unknown whether or not Styles actually spit on him, but it is an oddly hilarious conspiracy that social media has entertained.

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Reviews released that same night were both controversial and contradicting. The film was initially praised by critics for its incredible aesthetic and capturing of the 1950s time period. Pugh’s portrayal of Alice was given multiple accolades, emphasizing the fact that with every role, her range expands and her performances only get better.

“I think it’s going to be good,” said first-year broadcast journalism and theater arts major Ava Kezirian. “But also now, I’m not going to be able to separate the drama from the acting.”

Some critics wonder if it was wise to put a relatively new actor like Styles beside the powerhouse that is Pugh for his debut lead role. Some believe he falls short in delivering the psychological nuance necessary to emphasize the intensity of what Pugh’s character experiences.

Athena Pacanins, a first-year student majoring in modern artist development with a minor in songwriting, shared her predictions on the lead actors’ performances.

“I think Florence is going to kill it for sure; she is going to steal the spotlight because she is an incredible actress. I think Harry will be good, but since he doesn’t have as much acting training as Florence it may not be at the same level — but I think he’ll be good either way,” Pacanins said. “I think the movie will be a good 7.5/10.”

Despite the drama surrounding the film, several UM students are looking forward to the highly-anticipated thriller.

“Styles and Pugh aside, the movie looks mysterious and unsettling,” third-year psychology major Julian Villeta said.

“I think Florence is going to be amazing as always, she’ll blow it out of the water,” Lozano said.

“Don’t Worry Darling” opens in theaters Sept. 23.

Featured image: “Olivia Wilde” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.