Don’t Worry Darling: Harry Styles’ performance branded ‘leaden’ and ‘robotic’ by critics

·3-min read

The reviews are in for Don’t Worry Darling – and Harry Styles might want to look away.

The critical reception for Olivia Wilde’s upcoming sci-fi thriller, which stars Styles opposite Florence Pugh, has ranged from middling to poor, while the social media frenzy surrounding it has been captivating.

However, reporters have heaped praise on Pugh for her turn as Alice, a “1950s housewife living with her husband [Styles] in a utopian experimental community”.

While Pugh’s performance has been lauded, Styles’ performance as Jack has been labelled everything from “robotic” to “wooden”.

“Styles lacks charisma,” Geoffrey Macnab writes for The Independent in his three-star review.

“Jack is a one-dimensional figure, and the One Direction star fails to give him any hidden depth. Pugh is easily the film’s most vivid and compelling personality. She plays Alice in such fiery fashion that most other characters seem robotic by comparison.”

Macnab’s sentiment is echoed by several other reviewers, none more so than Marlow Stern for The Daily Beast, who writes: “Styles struggles to match [Pugh’s] go-for-broke intensity. The musician is like a deer in headlights throughout much of the proceedings, and a scene of him crying in the car following a particularly fiery row with Pugh is littered with more crocodile tears than Charlie Sheen being hauled out of his office by the cops at the end of Wall Street.”

Similarly, Steph Green writes for the BBC that Styles “doesn’t quite feel up to the material here, with leaden line delivery and a lack of light and shade making his two-hander scenes opposite Pugh fall flat”.

Harry Styles at Venice Film Festival’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ premiere (Invision)
Harry Styles at Venice Film Festival’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ premiere (Invision)

Kevin Maher for The Times calls the singer, “a huge problem for the film”.

“He’s wooden as. Especially opposite Pugh,” Maher continues, “who’s an innately gifted and charismatic screen giant.”

“One could imagine that she was exacting some level of revenge on Wilde, because she wipes the floor with Styles in their every encounter. Each time it’s like watching Brando do the ‘contender’ scene opposite former One Directioner Niall Horan.”

Rumours of a feud between Pugh and Wilde have been bubbling away for some time, with some fans claiming that Pugh has neglected to promote the film on her active social media accounts.

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ (Warner Bros)
Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ (Warner Bros)

Shia LaBeouf, who was originally cast as Jack before the role was given to Styles, recently shared a video of Wilde asking him to return to the film. Appearing to hint at friction with Pugh, Wilde says in the clip: “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo.”

Wilde had previously claimed that she fired LaBeouf from the production to help ensure that Pugh felt “safe”, something LaBeouf denied.

On Monday (5 September), Pugh was not present at a press conference for the movie at Venice Film Festival, citing a late plane arrival as the reason.

Wilde, for her part, has suggested that the feud is nothing but “invented clickbait”. Pugh has not commented on the rumours.

On the red carpet at the film’s Venice premiere, Pugh did, however, make a cryptic remark about it being “inspiring” to see women “pushing back and saying ‘no’, on and off camera”.

Don’t Worry Darling will be released in UK cinemas on 23 September.