The 79th Venice Film Festival - Venice, Italy, September 5, 2022 - Actor Harry Styles arrives. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The second Venice week begins as befitting the Harry Styles Festival. Even the way to the breakfast espresso in the beach bar is lined with young girls with colorful posters, they still have a long day ahead of them. But what’s eight hours of waiting in the sweltering heat compared to a glimpse of the biggest pop star alive, at least?

Even when he’s walking the red carpet with his girlfriend Olivia Wilde, who, conveniently, is also his director. They are not only waiting for “Don’t Worry Darling” in Venice because of its male star, Wilde has also been highly regarded in Hollywood since her directorial debut, the clever teen comedy “Booksmart”.

Of course, no less important was the question of how Styles would react to the style template of Timothée Chalamets, who wowed the fashion world on Thursday with his blood-red backless drapage jumpsuit by Haider Ackermann – and also fans with his role as a love-hungry cannibal somewhat disturbed in “Bones and All”. Styles didn’t accept the challenge. He landed at the Lido not wrapped in the bolero romance of his favorite designer Arturo Obegeror, but in a white dandy sailing outfit by Gucci. Aside from that, Styles also cuts a fine figure in Don’t Worry Darling as the latest upstart in a cohort of suburban dapper men with their trophy wives (including the director herself).

The always fabulous Florence Pugh plays his wife, who suspects that something is not quite right behind the pastel-colored 1950s facade – or behind the barriers that shield the small community from the outside world, maybe freedom awaits after all. Wilde’s film will certainly not win any awards for originality, but the “Stepford Wives” motif is feminist and no longer up to date as a social satire.

But the matter-of-factness with which Wilde now directs a film with these production values ​​(in which she often indulges too much) deserves the greatest respect. So far in Venice, the tendency towards positive self-overestimation has been a purely male virtue – see Alejandro González Iñárritu or Darren Aronofsky. And Harry Styles? At the end of “Don’t Worry Darling” he undergoes a transformation into the abyss that doesn’t need to hide behind Timothée Chalamet’s blood-smeared cannibal performance.

Also a utopia – or a dystopia? When it comes to good science fiction, the boundaries are fluid – says student Oscar winner Alex Schaad in his feature debut “Aus meine Haut”, the only German film on the Lido during “Criticism Week”. Edgar Selge plays a guru of sorts who runs a self-discovery retreat that includes body swapping.

Leyla (Mala Emde) and Tristan (Jonas Dassler) come to the island with emotional baggage. She knows what she’s getting into; he must first learn that one can be equally happy in someone else’s—or someone else’s—skin. Schaad, who wrote the screenplay with his brother Dimitrij (“The Kangaroo Chronicles”), also takes his subject a little too far, but one is glad when a German film tries to be original at all. The inner conflicts that are brought to the surface through the body swap – in a wide variety of constellations – remain only sketchy. But the mysterious “Midsommar” setting is quite appealing. The Lido is a good stage for Alex Schaad.