Don’t Look Up
Playing on the ongoing pandemic that now seems to be never-ending, the Infinity War and Endgame movies that have come and gone over the years and the continuous rise of social media, Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up jests about the end of the world in a sometimes funny, often morbid and somewhat flat story. “It’s horrific and beautiful at the same time,” says Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). This is honestly the best way to describe the film’s approach. Using plenty of Easter eggs, there’s an emphasis on the fact that this is a work of fiction. But McKay doesn’t shy away from exposing the real possibility of such an absurd situation.
In summary, two astronomers struggle to spread the word of their discovery: a comet that is six months away from an apocalyptic hit on the Earth. The president is too preoccupied with her image and the upcoming elections, the media errs away from the negativity and the rest of the world is too focused on the social media hysteria rather than their impending doom. With eyebrow-raising humour and a checklist of political topics to cover – from riots to corrupt political connections, the disparity between rich and poor to bad business models – the film tries its best to pass comment on the present state of society.
Its editing style is very unnerving. The situation itself is serious and dramatic, and the production adheres to that tone 100%, with thrilling and calculating music, fast-paced cuts to induce anxiety and long and steady close-ups to facial expressions to really highlight the characters’ emotions. The picture deliberately uses these clichés to come across as sarcastic and satirical, alongside the dialogue. It also uses a lot of juxtaposition and cross-cuts to further the comedic effect.
The opening sequence transitions in from a black screen through a sound bridge with the diegetic sound of the kettle whistling. This is pretty insignificant – until the end of the film. The ending startles with loud sounds of splashing, before abruptly cutting to black. The parallel between the first and last frame is just one of the many ways Don’t Look Up delivers something profound underneath all the dry humour. Another of course is the almost Titanic-like third act in which chaos ensues and different characters take different approaches to the situation: from absolute panic to calm acceptance, an insistence on normality to a continuous strive for survival.
Don’t Look Up is released on Netflix on 24th December 2021.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Look Up here: