Don’t Look Up: a herculean satire that mirrors humanity’s ignorance toward climate change.
Meryl Streep, Jennifer Laurence, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill star in the star-studded satire, Don't Look Up. Image Source: IMDb
What better way to mirror the current climate crisis than with the image of a ten-kilometer wide meteorite speeding towards Earth, bringing with it Armageddon.
Don’t Look Up, a black comedy written and directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice), centers on two astronomers who try to warn humanity about an approaching meteorite that will destroy all of civilization within six months.
Jennifer Laurence’s portrayal of the red-haired, septic-ring-wearing, Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky is perfection. Diabiasky, alongside her professor, Dr Randall Mindy (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) take on the surprisingly difficult task of informing the world of Earth’s dooming obliteration. Whilst I wish I could pull off Diabiasky's signature short fringe that carries with it eclectic, cool-girl energy, I do not wish to be in her position and will happily take my seat on the couch watching Selling Sunset on repeat until the giant rock comes crashing through my window.
Almost every cast member has either received or been nominated for an Academy Award, bringing their acting chops to this cli-fi Netflix hit. Meryl Streep’s performance of a female Trumpesque president who is only interested in winning the midterms than saving the planet is all too familiar. With her son, the Chief of Staff, played by Jonah Hill, relishing the incompetence and nepotism of a political party that is in it for all the wrong reasons – no surprises there. Ariana Grande makes an appearance as Mega pop star, Riley Bina, that looks like she stepped out of Harajuku Japan. And Mark Rylance's performance of Peter Isherwell channels a neurotic tech billionaire, which at times is awkward and too cringy to watch.
The film showcases the dangers of fame, superficiality, money, and social media, and how easy it is to lose sight of one’s goal when surrounded by a consumer-obsessed world. However, Don’t Look Up fails to recognize the multifaceted spirituality of the human condition. Only minutely does the film explore this through Yule, played by Timothee Chalamat, a nomad drifter and millennial hippie, who is also Catholic.
In a film that focuses heavily on the materialistic and scientific conundrums of our society, it is Yule's prayer during the final dinner, that is the only reflection of human's intrinsic spirituality. This is where the film misses its mark. If Don't Look Up's aim was to raise awareness about our own climate crisis and humanity's collective ignorance of scientific reasoning, satire fails to convey the message to the audience, instead, it alienates them. There is a limit to how much people will take of listening to an establishment bark on about their insatiable greed for money and materials, poking fun at their ignorance by portraying them as radical stereotypes that act on impulse, not understanding.
Kudos to McKay for creating a witty, satirical hit that explores the dangers of ignoring the truth. Those who already believe we have a climate crisis will continue to support the journey to a greener more sustainable Earth, but I'm afraid those who already doubt, won't change their minds. Alas, a film can't do everything, so for what it is – a humorous, deeply irritating, and strangely sad escapade – Don't Look Up is an enjoyable watch.
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