Don't Look Up
Review by Toni Ellis
145 minute running time
Watched February 2022
After more than 2 years, at last, I was able to reconnect in person with my American family over the Christmas holidays.
One evening, it was time to opt for a Netflix movie – and of course, there was much debate. Don’t Look Up was picked and we settled around the TV. Interesting, the film is tagged as satire, (well OK in bits) sci fi (I wish!), comedy (in glimpses), drama, and social issue – I’ll say!
By now, you probably know the plot: Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery that a comet is on a collision course with Earth. Our two dedicated scientists spend much of the movie trying to raise the alarm, increasingly frustrated that no one seems to care. When they finally get media attention, they are asked to keep the story light and upbeat. Eventually they sit down with the President (Meryl Streep, who truly plays the role to perfection). Astonishingly, despite the evidence she is presented with, her attention remains focused on her chances for re-election in the next term. At this point I wanted to scream: “if you don’t spring into action, there will be no next term.”
While filmed pre-pandemic, viewers could interpret the comet as the current or future pandemics, the overall dumbing down of public discourse to 10 second sound bites, or any number of lurking environmental worries (e.g. antibiotic resistant super bugs). But I think most viewers will recognize that the comet IS climate change.
I was left frustrated by the missed opportunity to leave viewers with a call to action. Clearly this was a receptive moment! You could argue this would dumb it down, but I suspect many viewers, will simply “change the channel” which is, of course, the problem.
P.S. Fortunately, readers of this website, will find plenty calls to action.