Wistfully wonderful, Wilde's psychological thriller is mid-century marvelous -- so much so that it may work against its own purpose. Told from a female point of view, the film doesn't have a message so much as a driving question: What is the perfect life, and what would you sacrifice for it? When asked that, teens might have an instant reaction that's wrapped up in identity, independence, and a modern perspective. But Wilde's movie wraps up the patriarchal past inside a seductive package of pretty pencil dresses, poolside parties, and sisterly shopping sprees. Alice is enthusiastic about her life with Jack, and the wives of Victory embrace supporting their husbands through clean houses, delicious dinners, sexy morning goodbyes, and martinis after work. The allure of that lifestyle is necessary for the rest of the movie's plot to unwind, and while the idea of it isn't intact by the end, there may be more than a few younger viewers who are sold on the notion that being a housewife looks pretty great.
That aside, Don't Worry Darling is enthralling. Alice is a phenomenal character, and, as played by the talented Pugh, she has all the complexity of the female spirit. It doesn't seem coincidental that she shares her name with a famous literary character who's "curiouser and curiouser." When she sees a loose thread in the perfection of Victory, Alice just can't let it go. She knows she shouldn't pull on it, and she tries not to, knowing it may very well unravel everything she holds dear -- yet she must. Once she starts tugging, viewers fly into the spiral of confusion with her, and when her answers come, it's in the form of a shocker that will hold up in cinematic history. For parents focused on raising active, critical teen thinkers, this Alice is worth following into the rabbit hole.