In this section of the Colossus Movie Guide for Don’t Worry Darling, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Alice – Florence Pugh
- Jack – Harry Styles
- Frank – Chris Pine
- Bunny – Olivia Wilde
- Margaret – KiKi Layne
- Shelley – Gemma Chan
- Dean – Nick Kroll
- Sydney Chandler – Violet
- Peg – Kate Berlant
- Asif Ali – Peter
- Writer – Katie Silberman
- Director – Olivia Wilde
The end of Don’t Worry Darling explained
At the end of Don’t Worry Darling, Alice realizes she’s been brainwashed by her husband, Jack, to live in a simulated world where she’s a submissive housewife. Jack tries to calm Alice down, but when he gets physical she retaliates by hitting him over the head and killing him. Bunny discovers what Alice has done and reveals that she’s known about the simulation all along. Alice then hops in a car and speeds away, only to be chased by Victory workers.
We then cut to Frank, who’s being asked what to do about the situation over the phone. But before he can answer, his wife Shelley stabs him in the stomach and says, “You stupid, stupid man.”
Alice races through the desert as Victory workers crash their cars and fall behind. Ahead of them all, Alice finally reaches the mirror in the desert and stands staring at it for a while. She then imagines Jack standing behind her, holding her, as he whispers, “Don’t leave me.” We then cut to a shot of Jack and Alice lying in bed together, saying, “You and me.”
When Alice snaps back to reality, she realizes she’s alone. When the Victory workers close in, she touches the mirror. The screen then cuts to a cryptic shot of a bloody circle that turns into a blue eye. Then we get dialogue from Frank, who says, “Once we acknowledge that reality, we can let go.” We then receive a series of shots, including the brainwashing sequence with the dancers, Bunny playing with her children, Alice cleaning the kitchen, and Alice dancing.
Understanding the ending of Don’t Worry Darling involves understanding the thematic depth of the film. As we outlined on the Themes and Meaning page, the three main themes are: the threat to American masculinity, the looming dissatisfaction with life, and the societal fight for change. You can see all three of those themes at play here at the end.
Once Alice discovers what Jack has done to her, Jack tries to explain how it was for the best. He believed that Alice was unsatisfied with her job, and Jack was unsatisfied with his relationship with Alice. So the fix-all approach was to escape to a world where Alice didn’t have to worry about having a job, where Alice had lots of female friends, where they could enjoy their relationship without the stresses of the real world.
The only problem is that Alice quite liked her job. Yeah, it was stressful, but she felt good about the impact she was having in the hospital. So the real problem didn’t lie with Alice, but instead with Jack, whose masculinity felt threatened by their situation. He wasn’t good at expressing his emotions, he was losing his sexual chemistry with Alice, and his job was terrible.
Jack didn’t understand all of this, but Alice did—which is why she had to hit Jack and run away. Jack may have been dissatisfied with his former life, but he created a new life that created profound dissatisfaction for Alice. Their inability to communicate and find a compromising solution becomes a defamiliarized example of how people drift apart in our current society. For men, it’s easier to regress to a “simpler” time. But for women, pushing forward for equality is what brings true happiness.
This explains the moment with the mirror. As we detailed on the Important Motifs page, the mirror is a symbolic way of representing the life Alice wishes she could be living. The brainwashing sequence combats this thinking, trying to make Alice believe there’s power in symmetry and uniformity: women should behave a certain way and accept that men run the world. But by touching the mirror, Alice chooses to return to her old life and choose her own path.
This is a tough moment for her, which is why we get the vision of Jack. Alice and Jack were in love, and had so many great moments together. But they were torn apart by societal pressures, by their inability to communicate. It’s tragic that she’s lost that with Jack, but Jack also proved that he had no intention of changing his mind about Victory—which means Alice must push forward.
The series of shots that ends the movie represents Alice finally putting the Victory life behind. Every moment featuring Victory is pristine and sanitized—a manufactured image that isn’t real. The brainwashing sequences are monotone and hypnotic, clearly engineered to pioneer groupthink. But Alice dancing in the kitchen in the real world is strikingly authentic. Sincere. Happy. This is Alice fully being herself. And she’s ready to embrace that life as she touches the mirror.
The moment where Shelley stabs Frank is truly perplexing. We don’t receive enough backstory about their relationship to truly understand why this happens. The easiest assumption is that Shelley was the true brains behind the Victory operation. Frank may have been the face and the voice, but perhaps Shelley was the financier, the mastermind. She may not be a man who directly benefits from Victory, but her financial gain would be enough motivation.
What are your thoughts?
Is there more information about the ending that you think should be part of Colossus Movie Guide? Leave your comments below and we’ll consider adding your thoughts to the guide.
It seems so many new movies, today, are written without much thought, making us fill the blanks and having to do a search about what just happened! Movies should be for entertainment, not for brain teasers one can’t figure out on their own.
Don’t Worry Darling was entertaining to a point, then became a “what the hell just happened”, awaiting a fix or explanation that never comes. The movie turned out to be frustrating at best. No longer enjoyable and a total let-down. Was it good enough to buy or keep in my collection? Unfortunately no!
Hey, Barry! I think there is room for both. There are absolutely people who just want entertainment. But for others, the brain teasers are entertainment. I think the issue here has less to do with brain teasers and more to do with DWD being badly written.
Hey Barry! Unfortunately, I agree. There were lots of great ideas, but the execution was flawed. And thus the ending fell flat. Here’s to hoping Wilde figures it out in her next movie because I really enjoyed Booksmart!