Don’t Look Up review: Netflix comedy is an emotional ride through the absurd

For a wacky satire on a comet destroying the planet, Do not seek certainly takes you on an emotional journey. The film – directed by writer and director Adam McKay, best known for films like Half brothers and Presenter – starts off hilariously, with big-name stars swapping one-liners in the midst of a looming apocalypse. But during its long run time, it slowly turns into something else. Laughter gives way to anger, frustration and ultimately a sort of hopeless hope. It’s a trajectory that serves as an eerie mirror to the last two years of pandemic life – don’t expect light pleasure.

Do not seek does not waste time getting started. It all starts with a pair of Michigan state astronomers Randall (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) discovering a massive comet in the sky between five and 10 kilometers wide. But the excitement of the discovery quickly turns to terror, as the couple realize that they are on a collision course with Earth and it will cause an extinction level event in about six months. They rush to the White House to brief the President, played by Meryl Streep, only to then wait for hours as she faces a much more pressing dilemma involving nude models. What follows is a delightfully wacky exchange, where the President and her Chief of Staff (Jonah Hill) who is also her egotistical son, debate the political ramifications of the revelation that everyone is set to die before their mid-term. . “The timing is just excruciating,” the president told them, noting that she will be asking her own staff – from an Ivy League school, of course – to assess things.

Image: Niko Tavernise / Netflix

It would all be absurd if it didn’t seem so close to the truth. What should be the one thing that matters to everyone on the planet – finding a way to avoid the destruction of all life – is drowned out by election season and, later, a celebrity break-up. At first, this contrast is played for fun; astronomers struggle to get their point across because no one wants to hear bad news. They participate in a talk show where they are told to keep things light. When Kate (Lawrence) explodes in frustration and announces to the hosts that everyone is going to die, she becomes a meme.

The absurdism which reflects our own reality a little too much is helped by a formidable cast. This film is full of talent. I could watch Streep and Hill joke around all day, and Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi are perfectly cast as the pop star couple again, again. Meanwhile, Lawrence does an incredible job of channeling the anger I know I would feel in his place. Other actors do a great job with smaller but essential roles; Timothée Chalamet as painfully serious Twitch / skate punk streamer, Ron Perlman as a definitely racist war hero. Everyone brings it.

But little by little this good humor gives way and Do not seek becomes uncomfortably real. Once the message is broadcast, it becomes polarizing. Randall (DiCaprio) transforms into a social media star, a hardened scientist who is the face of the government’s ever-evolving plan to try to deflect the comet, while Kate becomes an outcast due to her down-to-earth attitude. A piece of space rock that will gut life on Earth ends up creating political divisions. Some are terrified, others don’t even believe it’s real. While working-class voters are hopeful about the jobs Comet will provide, an evil tech mogul salivates at all of the rare metals it contains. At one point Randall is forced to ask: What good are billions of dollars if we’re all dead? He burst out laughing out of the room.

Do not seek

Image: Niko Tavernise / Netflix

It is infuriating to see the people arguing instead of working together for their literal survival. Sadly, little of the movie seems far-fetched given… well, the past two years on the real planet Earth. We have all seen the divisions that arise from a true existential crisis during the pandemic, and Do not seek is a strange reflection of this reality. You might call some aspects wacky or unrealistic, but then again, many of us spent the early days of the pandemic learning how to bake bread while watching King tiger. Do not seek exaggerating a bit, but it’s not too far.

It may be stretching a bit too long – the movie arrives at nearly two and a half – but the trip Do not seek takes viewers is fascinating. I went from laughing at the absurdity of a military general scamming astronomers for $ 20 to being really angry with everyone, not just ignoring the obvious but, in some cases, supporting the goddamn comet. Towards the end, when the collision becomes impossible to ignore, I felt bad for everyone involved. Do not seek has a largely grim view of humanity, but it ends on a surprisingly optimistic note. (You should definitely stick around for the credits where it gets hilarious again.)

I’m not sure if the movie made me realize anything new about myself or life during the pandemic, but it was certainly cathartic to see it all unfold in such a dramatic way.

Do not seek arrives in select theaters on December 10, before hitting Netflix on December 24.

About Geraldine Higgins

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