Warning: This post contains numerous spoilers regarding the ending of “Don’t Worry Darling.” Don’t read unless you’ve seen the movie.
“Don’t Worry Darling” had a lot of publicity before it was released, from director Olivia Wilde’s comments about Shia LaBeouf to the Harry Styles-Chris Pine “spitgate” incident and several other dramas. But throughout all the pre-opening drama, the film’s storyline remained unknown.
After the trailer premiered, audiences could see that the premise was a “Stepford Wives”-esque society where women had traditional roles in a sunny utopian society. Once viewers saw the film, they saw this story expand as Florence Pugh’s Alice character began to realize that something isn’t right in Victory’s quiet community. But as the events progress, it gets a little harder to tell what’s really going on, and the ending has more than a few moviegoers scratching their heads.
Part of the confusion could be due to the fact that the original script, which ended up on the Black List in 2019, was quite different. According to to Insider, the script by Dick Van Dyke’s grandsons Carey and Shane Van Dyke, was rewritten by “Booksmart” screenwriter Katie Silberman, who made significant changes. Here’s a rundown of what happens in “Don’t Worry Darling”, as far as we can tell.
The structure: It’s probably obvious to viewers that Victory looks like a 1950s community, but it isn’t actually take place during that time. The characters have a more casual approach to sex and nudity than would be expected from that suppressed decade (in one scene, a topless woman wanders around the communal pool), and there are no specific cultural references to the period. It is soon established that Margaret, the character of KiKi Layne, one of the few POCs in the community, has been taken away by unseen forces after questioning the system too much.
The twist, explained: After Alice repeatedly asks what’s going on in Victory – and why nothing is real, including the eggs she cracks and has nothing in them – the Victory Project is revealed to be a simulation, a kind of highly evolved virtual reality. Alice and her husband Jack (Harry Styles) live in a modest apartment in the real world. Alice works late at the hospital and is often too tired to show Jack any affection when she comes home. Jack is unemployed. Alice’s work schedule and Jack’s aimlessness have driven a wedge between them, with Jack feeling neglected by Alice. Jack spends his days listening to online videos of an incel-like internet personality named Frank (Chris Pine), who has developed advanced technology that allows men and women to live in a simulation of a 1950s utopian community.
Although it is not shown explicitly, it is strongly suggested that Jack, feeling totally estranged from Alice and wanting to retain control of her, kidnaps her and holds her against her will so that they can both enter the simulation and live a happier life. . Alice has no autonomy in this decision. A montage shows Jack registering for the Victory simulation and choosing to give himself a British identity in the fake world.
Once Jack has captured Alice, he ties her to the bed and uses futuristic technology to upload her to the Victory simulation. Jack uses the same technology to voluntarily enter the simulation. Jack is aware of his real self in the simulation, but Alice and the other women are not. It is implied that all of these women are held captive by their venomous male partners and uploaded to the simulation so that they can be the perfect wives. The only woman who knows what’s going on is Bunny (Olivia Wilde), who reveals that she agreed to sign up for the real-world Victory Project after her children died. In the simulation, Bunny has two children (well, virtual children) and lives happily. Bunny never told Alice the truth.
The attack: Once Alice becomes aware of the above information, she goes rogue and stabs Jack with a butcher knife. Bunny shows up and explains that if you kill someone in the simulation, they also die in real life. When Alice exits the simulation (which is accomplished by going to Victory’s HQ and touching a window, which acts as a sort of exit portal), she can expose the men’s criminal acts. Victory security henchman appears and tries to kill Alice so that her real body never wakes up and reveals the truth of the project.
The escape: In the final set, Alice grabs Jack’s car and races across the desert to Victory’s HQ in an attempt to escape the entire mishegas of mishegas once and for all. Frank listens for updates from the chase, but is stabbed by his wife (Gemma Chan), who tells him, “Now it’s my turn.” It is unclear whether or not Frank’s wife resembled Bunny and knew the truth about Victory or not. Either she didn’t know the truth and killed her husband for holding her captive, or she knew the truth and killed her husband so she could play the victim card in the real world and not be responsible for crimes.
Once Alice reaches Victory’s headquarters, she sees a vision of Jack telling her to stay in Victory and be with him. She doesn’t listen and instead touches the glass that supposedly teleports her consciousness back to her real body. When Alice touches the glass, the film ends abruptly. The last shot of the film is a black screen. The viewer hears a woman gasping, suggesting that she has woken up to the real world.
A burning question you may still have: What was the significance of the Busby Berkeley style, black-and-white interludes of synchronized dancers? In an instant and you’ll miss it, a video of these dancers is projected onto the ceiling above the real Alice and she lays down on the bed against her will. It appears that this video is looping and part of the technology used to upload Alice to the Victory simulation, almost as a form of hypnosis to keep Alice unconscious.
Another burning question you may still have: What did the men in Victory do all day if they all knew they were living in a simulation? In the simulation, the men go to work all day, claiming to develop ‘progressive materials’. It’s meant to be ambiguous, but it gets a little confusing when Jack tells Alice, after learning the truth about Victory, that he hates going to work and is miserable too. That Jack hates whatever his 9 to 5 job is means that the men of victory go to HQ every day (they drive there, after all) and leave the simulation for their real jobs and to keep their imprisoned wives somewhat healthy. (a montage shows Jack from the real world watering Alice’s dried lips in the real world, for example because she is bedridden). Perhaps the small earthquakes that take place in Victory are the result of the portal that sends the men in and out of the simulation.