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With a cast to die for, Don't Look Up does not bombard you with images of a crumbling world

(3/5)
With a cast to die for, Don't Look Up does not bombard you with images of a crumbling world

Film: Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep

Nonika Singh

Two nerdy astronomers Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Jenifer Lawrence) discover that a comet is inching, nay dangerously advancing, towards planet earth. As they decide to go to town with this vital piece of information you expect all hell to let loose and you anticipate yet another doomsday film.

Hold your horses…. For star-studded Don’t Look Up is not just another apocalypse story. Instead, drama of a different kind begins, as these two scientists Dr Mindy, a professor, and Dibiasky, a PhD student, wait in attendance for an office with the President of the United States, a woman President in this case.

Meryl Streep gets into her act of Janie Orleans with aplomb and caricaturises it suitably as demanded by the script. Her gender, however, we learn has no bearing on her attitude. Like all politicians she is an epitome of opportunism; see an opportunity and grab it with both hands. As well as do a flip flop as it suits her fortunes.

The same goes for the media houses. In fact, the bits about where television houses are leading us, is the most interesting part of the film. Lovely actress Cate Blanchett plays a television anchor Brie Evantee whose job it is to trivialise the most serious content.

Expectedly, when she learns of the impending crisis, her tone is equally flippant and dismissive. The only thing she discovers of interest in the scientific revelation is her chemistry with Dr Randy. Under the new-found limelight the professor, who we are told needs media training, soon turns a new page as he appears on a prime time show.

Seduced by this world of arclights and Brie, this family man becomes a new person and you can only expect Leonardo to deliver the goods. His character arc allows him enough space to bare his tremendous acting potential. Jenifer Lawrence as his protégé is impressive too. Only since she remains the moral compass of the film, there are not very many inflections to her character.

Can they prevail and avert the comet from hitting the ground? The question or even the suspense here isn’t whether doomsday arrives or not. The point is; do the governments aided by capitalist forces, in this case billionaire Peter Isherwell, the CEO of a tech company with his own axe to grind, even care to? Since the answer is something we already know, the climax though a tad disappointing should not come as a surprise. But as the satire blends the harsh reality with surreal touches (don’t miss the anti-climax), the sci-fi does tread an interesting ground.

Don’t Look Up, the title is as much a metaphor as a warning of why we need to pay heed and not overlook. A stinging reminder of the world around us where the powers that be will only be covering their own backs, it is an interesting drama that amuses and engages with enough thoughts to mull over. Director Adam McKay’s point of view is clear in his words “This movie came from my burgeoning terror about the climate crisis and the fact that we live in a society that tends to place it as the fourth or fifth news story.”

But the film’s basic crux could well apply to any governmental inaction. With a cast to die for this Netflix outing of an impending catastrophe does not bombard you with images of a crumbling world. Rather, it takes you there with power of words, humour and some fine acting. Do look up. The film which had a limited theatrical release has picked up four nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards and six at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards.