Carried by an exceptional cast, the disaster film depicts modern society with a biting humour, revealing its passivity in the face of scientific warnings.
On Christmas Eve, the catalogs of SVoD platforms are full of light films that drip with love and multiply clichés. But on December 24, a UFO landed on Netflix: Don’t Look Up: Cosmic Denial. A funny and chilling parody of society, set against a disaster film backdrop. The title has aroused the curiosity of subscribers, to climb into the top 10 of the platform in a few days. Faced with the rise of the phenomenon, the spectators wonder: do we really have to impose 2h25 of anxiety in the current context? The answer is yes.
1 For his casting
The screenplay and direction are by Adam McKay. The filmmaker had already dealt with sensitive subjects such as the 2008 subprime crisis in The Big Short: The Heist of the Century and the portrayal of the controversial Dick Cheney (Vice President of George W. Bush) in the satirical biopic Vice. In his eighth film, the director portrays a society indifferent to the climate emergency.
Don’t Look Up was able to count on a five-star Hollywood cast. Jennifer Lawrence is the first to have joined this funny and depressing project. We find her in the role of a young doctoral student in astronomy who has to deal with human stupidity. She is accompanied by Leonardo DiCaprio (who will soon play Jim Jones in another film), an anxious scientist who becomes the superstar of social networks. Meryl Streep plays an incompetent and selfish president and Jonah Hill coasts as her son and chief of staff. We also see Cate Blanchett, Chris Evans, Timothée Chalamet, or even Ariana Grande (in a caricature of herself).
2 For its history
In 2019, Adam McKay imagines a story inspired by the book The uninhabitable Earth: Living with 4°C more. The pitch: a comet is hurtling towards Earth, but no one is paying attention. The following year, the casting was completed, but the project was faced with a major problem, the Covid-19. The director doubts his film, which no longer seems so delirious. He finally decides to continue the adventure by making this pandemic his new playground and a source of inspiration.
The story begins with the chilling discovery of young doctoral student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence): in six months and 14 days, a comet will crash into Earth and destroy humanity. Professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and scientists around the world confirm the hypothesis. They will then try to alert the White House, the media and the population, but no one takes them seriously. The President of the United States affirms that 99.78% plausibility is not 100%” and there is nothing to worry about. She suggests waiting to see how the situation develops.
The message of the feature film is clear: scientists warn us about global warming, and we do nothing. The fact that he says it with humor is as surprising as it is powerful. Comedy, drama, science fiction, disaster film… It mixes several genres and manages to captivate the viewer.
3 For his critique of our society
The film parodies characters to the extreme. Politicians, media, citizens… Everyone goes through it. He first attacks the ruling classes, with the President appearing as a caricature of Donald Trump. When scientists alert her to the comet, she decides to close her eyes, focusing on the midterm elections. The media will prefer to talk about the reconciliation of two stars and the physique of Professor Randall Mindy rather than the disaster.
The hosts are hysterical and obsessed with the audience curves, who panic as soon as they talk about a politico-sexual scandal. In this absurd (and very realistic) universe, scientists are desperate. Kate Dibiasky’s crack on TV will go around social networks, Internet users taking malicious pleasure in hijacking the image rather than listening to her words. There are conspiracy theorists but also Peter Isherwell, a subtle mix of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, who sees in this comet the opportunity to exploit a new wealth.
Don’t Look Up wants to be funny, sometimes too much. He pushes the caricature to its climax and some jokes fall flat. But this excessive side captures the attention of the viewer, who realizes the absurdity of the world and the climate emergency. Behind its gags and burlesque situations, the film hides a reality that alerts and anguishes those who watch it. The message got through.