Actress and director Olivia Wilde denies falling out with Florence Pugh, her co-star in her film It’s Nothing, Dear. In one of the most anticipated novelties of this year’s Venice Film Festival, Pugh and singer Harry Styles played a couple who live in a seemingly perfect relationship in the 1950s.
Twenty-six-year-old Pugh’s acquaintance from the Little Drummer series missed the press conference in Venice, refused interviews and kept her distance from director Wilde on the red carpet. In the same way, the film is not promoted on social networks, the AP agency notes.
However, Pugh explains the unusually small involvement in the promotion not by a dispute with the director, but by the fact that she is busy filming the second part of the science fiction Dune. In it, she will play Princess Irulan.
“Florence is like an element. I’m so happy that she managed to come to Venice for the world premiere when she’s so busy with Dune 2. It was a real honor to cast her in the lead role,” responded director Wilde, who played herself in Nothing, Dear a smaller role.
“As for the endless speculation in the media, the internet doesn’t need any further comments from me, it’s content with what it has. I think we’ve already said enough,” added Wilde at the press conference. Immediately, the presenter rejected a question from one of the journalists regarding the actor Shia LaBeouf. He originally appeared in the film, but was eventually replaced by singer Harry Styles.
Wilde told Vanity Fair that she fired LaBeouf early on set in 2020 because of his “work attitude” and conflicted nature.
LaBeouf refused, saying he quit of his own accord because the director wasn’t giving the actors enough time to rehearse. To prove it, he forwarded to Variety.com screenshots of his correspondence with Wilde, including a recording of one video call. They are supposed to prove that LaBeouf left the project by his own decision and that the director, on the contrary, persuaded him to stay.
LaBeouf faces trial next year with his ex-partner, singer FKA Twigs, who accused him of sexual violence and other types of abuse.
Czech cinemas will start screening the film To nic, dear on September 22. | Video: Vertical Ent.
Further interest in the news was fueled by the news that director Wilde started a romantic relationship with actor and singer Harry Styles during filming, although she was not yet formally divorced at the time. The media speculated that it was because of the romance with the singer that Wilde came into conflict with the representative of the main role, Pugh, reports the Reuters agency.
Wilde’s public appearance at the Las Vegas Comic-Con this spring was disrupted by lawyers for actor Jason Sudeikis, Wilde’s husband, who handed thousands of people an envelope purportedly with a court proposal for joint custody of their children. The director passed the incident on stage in silence and does not talk about it even in interviews.
All this contributes to the fact that the media is focusing on the film To nic, dear, even though it premiered out of competition at the Venice festival. A psychological drama shot in bold colors takes place in the 1950s. It takes viewers to the utopian American small town Victory deep in the Californian desert.
The apparent idyll is disturbed by the disappearance of one of the wives of the local men. At that moment, the heroine played by Pugh will no longer have enough local food, drink, shiny cars and other consumer goods that have filled her idea of the American dream. He begins to question whether he is living in a constructed reality.
It bothers her that she doesn’t know exactly what the company that employs her husband does. It is said to be a top secret project that will change the world. But the male-dominated society doesn’t tell women the details. Residents feel the consequences of her mysterious work in regular mild earthquakes.
“The film shows that everything that is beautiful in this world also has a dark side,” sums up Chris Pine. He played the sinister boss of the mysterious company that runs the town.
Actor and one of the most sought-after pop singers of today, Harry Styles, who recently sold out Prague’s O2 arena, interrupted his streak of 15 concerts in New York’s Madison Square Garden for the premiere of the film in Venice.
Harry Styles on the red carpet. | Photo: ČTK/AP
He walked the red carpet with the director and his current partner Wilde. In particular, hundreds of fans were waiting for him there, to whom he handed out autographs. Styles was watched by many times more people than another popular young actor, Timothée Chalamet, last Friday, notes the AP agency. According to her, no one has received such an enthusiastic reception in Venice this year as Styles.
Nothing, dear is the first film in which the British singer and former member of the boy band One Direction was given a leading role. “I’m still more at home in music, but I really like acting,” says Styles, who already performed in the wartime Dunkirk. “The funny thing is that when you’re acting, it’s like you never know what you’re doing. I’ve been involved in music for a long time, so I know the feeling after all, while acting is completely new to me,” he adds.
An explicit shot from the trailer for the film To nic, dear has caused a stir on social networks. | Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
While promoting the film, director Wilde emphasized its feminist and erotic side. A short explicit scene from the trailer, in which the female protagonist, played by Pugh, enjoys oral sex from Styles’ character, caused an extraordinary response on social networks. “And we had to cut a lot out of the trailer because of the rating. We still live in a relatively puritanical society,” the director points out. The film has been rated R in the US, which means that people under 17 can only see it if accompanied by an adult.
“Female pleasure is best shown today in queer films. I don’t understand why we as a society are more accepting of erotic scenes between two women, while in male-female sex the focus is always on the male climax,” Wilde told Variety.com.
Her story is based on a strong heroine who does not need male help. “I invented a heroine that I missed terribly in the movies. I wanted to create the type of character that today’s society needs, a woman who can be dramatic and comedic and at the same time has a physique like a certain Tom Cruise,” the director added to the AP agency.
According to her, 18 film studios and streaming services have shown interest in To nic, dear. In Venice, the film, which Czech cinemas will start showing on September 22, received a four-minute standing ovation.
Director Olivia Wilde on the red carpet. | Photo: ČTK/AP
However, the critic of the British newspaper Guardian gave it only two out of five stars. According to him, it is shaky, unconvincing and derived from other works, from which it seems to borrow all possible elements without understanding them.
“Furthermore, the film inexplicably skips the ending, which only proves how many changes would have to be made in the script,” criticizes the Guardian.
The reviewer of the Indiewire.com site criticizes the film for being too literal. “Starts promisingly, but quickly falls apart due to a few incomprehensible screenwriting decisions,” writes the website, according to which it’s nothing, dear, stands out for its stunning visuals and Florence Pugh gives one of her best performances in it. “Overall, the film looks good, but it doesn’t say anything that other films before it didn’t say better,” sums up Indiewire.
According to the British BBC, the story criticizes patriarchal society or the so-called nuclear family and points out how dangerous it is to embellish the past. “However, he says everything so superficially and unnecessarily overwrought that the viewer quickly tires of it,” writes the BBC.
The plot focuses too much on unexplained dream scenes, the meaning of which is not clear. “The creators clearly had a lot of ideas, they just didn’t know how to organize them,” concludes the BBC.