Matthew Libatique on ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ and how twisted love can be

Don't Worry Darling

By Jessica Jones, MWN

Much has been heard about the psychological thriller, ‘Don’t Worry Darling.’

The movie tells the story of a couple who have a perfect life, in a neighborhood with all the luxuries, which almost seems like a bubble. The man works every day and she cleans the house, enjoys sunbathing and occasional drinks with the same neighbors. However, this life does not turn out to be as perfect as it is painted and the mental game begins to take over the protagonists.

To talk about the film, Metro spoke with director of photography Matthew Libatique.

I would like to start by talking about ‘Requiem for a Dream’, one of the films in which you participated and that marked the lives of so many. How do you feel when you look back on that work?

I feel very fortunate to have been present, to be honest. A lot of people come up to me and talk to me about it, you know? I think at the time, I did a lot of things that weren’t right and I changed course, so I decided I wanted to be in that movie that, truth be told, put my mind on the ground. 

It’s been many years, but people keep talking to me about it and telling me that it has changed their lives. That makes me feel good. It’s become one of the most important projects I’ve ever worked on, so it might be my favorite.

What was your inspiration to make the shots you did, framing, and details in ‘Don’t Worry Darling’? How was it working under the direction of Olivia Wilde?

Olivia was my inspiration. The camera movements play perfectly with the actors. It’s a 100% collaboration with her aesthetics and with her direction because the camera can only move with the actors, who, in turn, move according to guidelines. So, it is the actors who direct the camera and it is the director who gives the initial order to the actors to move on stage. So I am indebted to her for that inspiration and even for the success of the film. 

Olivia wanted to make a psychological film in this idyllic world, but at the same time, to go a little bit beyond that, so we all worked to achieve that.

There is a very particular part of the film, where the characters are lying in bed and, above them, there are several holograms of women dancing. Why did you do that?

That’s a great question, Olivia will have the right answer, but I know she was in love with Busby Berkeley and he has a lot of this stuff. Berkeley’s women are taken as objects, they all look the same, it’s almost as if every woman represents every woman at once and in every way. They appeared in choreography, which means they were directed for this movement and she combined that with this circular shape that is basically sprinkled throughout the film, with all the straight lines of masculinity in the architecture. 

I think she really loved the idea of it being similar to the scene in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, where they’re supposed to see all the violence in the world. The captivity in this film is a science fiction machine that keeps them in this universe that they’re in, being fed with this idyllic nature of these women living compliant and happy and I think that’s why that scene exists. It complements everything that you see in these women’s lives, that’s why I think it had to be those holograms and not others.

This film proposes many new things. It has a difficult plot to develop… What was the biggest challenge?

To be honest, the action scenes in the end, when there is a car chase. I don’t shoot action movies and Olivia doesn’t direct action people… so that was probably the hardest part to shoot and direct. We actually had to take some things out because of budget issues, so yeah, that was the biggest challenge.

Don’t Worry Darling’ is now showing in theaters.