“Don’t Worry Darling,” the new movie starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles and directed by Olivia Wilde, has been generating lots of drama off-screen — but the real action happens on screen. In the film, Pugh stars as Alice, a young woman who lives with her handsome husband, Jack (Styles), in a town called Victory. It’s a retro, 1950s company town — every man who lives there works for the Victory Project, while the women stay at home, cleaning their houses, running errands, and raising children. The head of the Victory Project is Frank (Chris Pine), who everyone worships. But when her friend Margaret (KiKi Layne) starts acting strangely, Alice can’t help but start questioning their idyllic lives. It all leads up to a big twist — so we’re breaking down the movie’s ending.
The men of the Victory Project go to work every day in the desert, and the one rule for the women is to not follow them there. Margaret tells Alice that she broke that rule with her son and that they subsequently took the child away from her as a punishment. Alice goes out to the desert too, finding a strange building. But she then wakes up in her house, not knowing how she got there. She continues to question her reality, and Jack is seemingly intent on helping her figure things out.
It all comes to a head when, after Jack is promoted in the company by Frank, Jack and Alice host a dinner party. Frank confronts Alice in her kitchen and tells her that he’s been waiting for someone to challenge him, and he welcomes her. So at the dinner party, Alice explains all the things about living in Victory that doesn’t quite make sense. Every woman seems to be from the same three cities, to have met her husband in the same three ways, and to have honeymooned in the same three places. And no one can remember how they got there. When Alice reveals that she went out into the desert, her guests turn on her for breaking the singular rule.
Alice convinces Jack, though, that things aren’t right and that they need to get out. He agrees, and they head to their car. But instead of driving away, he sits there as mysterious men in red jumpsuits come and take Alice away. He screams, “F*ck!” into the night air.
This is the twisting moment. The Victory Project is fake, a Matrix-like simulation. In the present-day real world, Alice is a very busy doctor, and Jack is her unemployed and struggling boyfriend. He hates that she works so much, but she tells him that she loves her job. Jack becomes obsessed with Frank, who espouses the beliefs of the Victory Project online — that men can reclaim the lives they “deserve,” aka the retro societal norms at play in the simulation. Jack chooses a life for them and sends them into the simulation — without Alice’s knowledge or consent. In the real world, their bodies are lying in bed, with machinery attached to their heads.
Meanwhile, the Victory Project is performing some sort of procedure on Alice to get her to comply again. Jack brings her home, and her neighbors celebrate her return. But a song she can’t stop humming reminds her of her real life, and she confronts Jack about his lies. He reveals that when the men “go to work” every day, they touch the building in the desert, which sends them back to the real world, where they have to make enough money to pay to stay in the Victory Project. This makes Frank’s “promotion” of Jack even crueler: there was no job. It was all just to mess with Alice’s head. Jack tries to convince her to stay, so that they can be happier in the simulation, but they argue and she kills him. The Victory Project sends out an alert that Jack has been killed, and the men head Alice’s way to kill her, too.
Alice’s best friend Bunny (Olivia Wilde) appears to check on them, and she confirms it’s all true, and that she always knew. In the real world, she lost her children, but in the fake world of the Victory Project, she can have kids again. This also explains why Margaret lost her son when she went to the desert; he disappeared because he wasn’t real. Bunny tells Alice to get in the car and drive into the desert to escape.
A long car chase ensues. Frank almost leaves his house to try to stop Alice himself, but his wife, Shelley (Gemma Chan), kills him. Alice eventually makes it through the desert to the building and touches the door moments before the Victory Project’s goons catch her. The screen goes black, and we hear her gasp for air. Alice makes it back to the real world, which might be messier, harder, and uglier, but at least her life is her own.