Following its premiere at the very eventful Venice Film Festival 2022—Timothée Chalamet in a backless red number from Haider Ackermann, Luca Guadagnino’s Bones & All receiving an 8-minute standing ovation and Brendan Fraser’s The Whale a 6-minute one—the reviews are in for Don’t Worry Darling. Harry Styles, you might want to look away…
But before we get into the messy details (and bleak reviews) of Olivia Wilde’s second directorial project, we need to discuss the latest tea TikTok has been served with surrounding all of the juiciest cast drama. The bizarre moment that was captured between Styles and Chris Pine, to be exact.
In a duet posted on the video-sharing app that hasn’t gone viral just yet, user @she_loves_marvel encouraged viewers to pay more attention to a moment captured by French tabloid Gala prior to the premiere of the highly anticipated film.
At first glance, nothing seems to stick out—Pine is sitting beside Wilde, briefly chatting with someone out of shot as Styles arrives and sits down next to the Star Trek actor and fellow cast member. Sure, it’s a bit strange that Styles, who’s reportedly been dating Wilde ever since first filming Don’t Worry Darling, doesn’t even glance at her. But who knows, they’re probably trying to avoid feeding the nasty rumours some more, right?
Well, that’s where you might have missed a millisecond interaction hidden in the clip. As the TikToker pointed out by slowing it down, as Styles enters the frame, just before sitting down, he looks like he just coughed—or worse even, spat—at Pine.
This possibility is only then reinforced when Pine, who was initially smiling and clapping, stops in his tracks, his expression turning sour as if he can’t believe what had just happened. Honestly, once you notice it, it’s almost impossible to ignore the uncomfortable energy radiating from the two stars.
Understandably, in the video’s comments section, users have made it their mission to decipher the interaction between Styles and Pine. “Well now I think we know who pushed Liam,” one jokingly wrote while another hit the nail on the head by stating, “At this point we need a documentary of all of this movie drama.”
“This wasn’t very T[reat] P[eople] W[ith] K[indness] Harold,” shared a third user in reference to the singer’s life slogan.
Unfortunately for Wilde, this latest awkward moment is not the only controversy that has stolen the spotlight from her upcoming film. First, rumours of the director feuding with her lead actress, Florence Pugh (or the other way around) ignited countless conspiracies online. Some believed the successful actress disapproved of Wilde’s relationship with Styles. Others couldn’t help but notice that Pugh’s Instagram feed had been completely bare of Don’t Worry Darling promotions—a move that is unlike her.
In what many netizens defined as a poor attempt to quash the rumours once and for all, Wilde broke her silence on the supposed beef in an interview with Variety, telling the publication that there was “absolutely no validity to those claims.”
“There has been a lot out there that I largely don’t pay attention to. But the absurdity of invented clickbait and subsequent reaction regarding a nonexistent pay disparity between our lead and supporting actors really upset me. I’m a woman who has been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s something that I have fought for myself and others, especially being a director.”
Then it was revealed that Pugh would not be promoting Don’t Worry Darling along with the rest of the cast due to ‘conflicting schedules’ as she had to be in Budapest filming the Dune sequel. In the end however, the actress only dodged the film’s press conference—during which she was seen strolling around Venice in an iconic royal purple outfit—before showing up on the red carpet in yet another awkward moment where neither Wilde nor Styles were ever seen near the Midsommar star.
In the Variety interview mentioned previously, Wilde also suggested that problematic actor Shia LaBeouf was fired from the leading role that eventually went to Styles because “his process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions.” Wasting no time, LaBeouf hit back with a slew of private messages, letters and a particularly damaging video correspondence between himself and the director in an attempt to prove that actually, “I quit your film.”
It was chaotic, to say the least, seeing Wilde get criticised by a literal accused abuser. In the video released by LaBeouf which he claimed Wilde sent him on 19 August 2020, so two days after his resignation, she can be heard pleading, “I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I too am heartbroken and I want to figure this out. You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us. If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace—and I respect your point of view, I respect hers—but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”
In other words, it certainly appears that Wilde was trying her hardest to keep LaBeouf on board, not fire him as she has publicly claimed. And as much as we hate to say it, it seems the Transformers actor was right to stay out of the movie.
All of this could have been ‘worth it’ had the first reviews for Don’t Worry Darling been promising. Well, sadly for Wilde and whoever else got involved in the countless debates surrounding the film, critical reception for the sci-fi thriller has ranged from middling to poor, a stark contrast to the captivating social media frenzy surrounding it.
“Styles lacks charisma,” Geoffrey Macnab wrote for The Independent in his three-star review. “Styles may or not be a talented actor; it’s not easy to tell from this, but the normally excellent Pugh has not been interestingly directed, certainly not compared with her work in broadly comparable movies such as Midsommar or The Falling,” Peter Bradshaw shared for The Guardian before concluding, “It is a movie marooned in a desert of unoriginality—and the desert doesn’t bloom.”