The movie everyone is talking about.
Seriously, my out-of-the-loop dad even asked me what was going on with Olivia Wilde. Unfortunately, seeing the movie didn’t give me any further answers for him. Setting aside the drama that the cast has drummed up in the last few months, the movie itself was disappointing.
It started out as an eerie (but in a fun way) thriller about housewives and husbands included some interesting cinematography and exciting clues about what was to come. The desert scenery was really well-shot and the costumes and sets were immaculate. Margaret’s “issues” and the red plane motif were interesting at first, but around minute 100, when I realized they weren’t going to be explained, I got frustrated they were included at all.
Margaret (Kiki Layne) could have been an excellent character, if she were ever given the chance to interact with Alice (Florence Pugh), Bunny (Olivia Wilde), or Frank (Chris Pine). But the only person she really spoke to was her own husband, and we barely saw a few words exchanged between them. Instead, Margaret stared off into the distance, made cryptic calls, and finally slit her own throat… without ever speaking to the other characters.
The final explanation, though lacking in length and coherence, was actually a thoroughly sinister and compelling wrap-up. Seeing the “real world” of Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice’s relationship for the first time made me feel icky. The idea that a boyfriend might trap you in a virtual reality to keep you from leaving him is horrifying. An added layer of intrigue was that Jack seemed to have gotten that idea from a podcaster or internet personality of some sort, a la Andrew Tate perhaps. Making this a critique of the digital age would have been an interesting take… But it also would have made it a very different movie.
What really hurts is that this movie could have been great—expand the last 15 minutes into the majority of the plot and you’ve got a powerful good-for-her story about a woman fighting to take back her life from an entitled man-child. It even could have made some commentary on toxic masculinity and the internet personalities who promote it at the expense of young men’s mental health. But it was all shoved to the back burner and woefully explained in the last five minutes.
Plot holes, off-the-wall scenes written seemingly just for fun, and unexplained endings are common for writer Katie Silberman. In romantic comedies (her usual fare) it doesn’t matter so much if there are a few loose ends left because you’re satisfied with a happy ending. But a thriller isn’t quite the same… And she deprived us of a glorious final girl sequence featuring Florence Pugh. That’s simply unforgivable.
This really should have only 2 stars, but Florence Pugh is a truly great actress and carried the swiss cheese plot for the full 2 hours and 3 minutes.
And last but not least, I feel like I have to mention how Harry Styles did as a lead actor. He was fine. Just fine. But it was incredibly difficult to take him seriously, and every time he was in a serious scene I nearly burst out laughing. If I had no idea who he was, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed that he wasn’t that great. Or if it had been anyone else in his role, I probably would’ve liked the movie better as a whole. Alas…