Film Review: “Don’t Look Up” (2021)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a grain of truth in every joke we hear. However, some of them are too good to be true. We would have probably died of laughter after watching Adam McKay’s social satire “Don’t Look Up”, if it was made, say, three years ago. Now, not so much. Because what it covers is a harder pill to swallow, a harsh reminder of why we live in such trying times.

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) are low profile astronomers who would have, perhaps, remained unknown, if not for their discovery. When, Kate, a PhD candidate after work with the Subaru Telescope discovers a mountain-sized comet heading towards planet Earth, and after the trajectory being confirmed by Dr Randall, the two head straight to the White House to inform about the catastrophic event estimated to hit the planet in six months. To their greatest surprise, not only were they not taken seriously but become objects of mockery by the giant media and social networks, turning their news into a big joke.

Largely, it’s because of the heavy base of President of the United States Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep portrays the female version of Donald Trump) and her son, chief of staff, Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill), who begins the campaign ‘Don’t Look Up’, so the followers will concentrate more on the fake news fed by the President and the pseudo agenda. When the White House fails the astronomers’ expectations, they head to the news agency, CVN, meeting with their famous host, played by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry. But even those two ignore the news, turning it into a complete joke.

Written and directed by Adam McKay, “Don’t Look Up” is a great comedy that offers a mirror reflection of the Covid pandemic, pretty much, showing us where we are right now due to the lack of interest in fighting against the global virus by the previous administration. Obviously, the film does not point out Trump specifically or his actions, but the whole political situation in the film is what we have faced in the last four years that culminated into a disastrous event which we all are in right now. The wicked humor, excellent direction, fabulous score and the phenomenal ensemble cast brings to us the remedy against ignorance by forcing us to face one.

As for the performances, it’s an astounding level of deliverance by the entire cast, including Jennifer Lawrence, who, I must say, proved me wrong, by showing her level of comprehension of the character she portrayed – smart, uncompromising, brave and vulnerable at the same time. DiCaprio is Dicaprio, as always – like a surgeon who performs successful brain surgery on his characters, harvesting all the necessary elements by portraying him in an exquisite way. Meryl Streep nails the role of an ignorant President of the United States, who cares more about her campaign donors than the deadly comet that is soon to destroy the planet.

To me, the standout performance was by the great Mark Rylance as billionaire Peter Isherwell, who has enough money to control the course of action of the US President. His performance is so nuanced, it pretty much sums up why politicians bow down to individuals like him – and that is much scarier than the whole concept of “Don’t Look Up”.

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