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Film review: Don’t Look Up

Having long complained that too few films are engaging with the climate crisis, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian, I feel “churlish” for not loving Don’t Look Up, a comedy that does just that. The story follows two astronomers, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, who discover that a Mount Everest-sized comet is zooming towards the planet, and is poised to wipe out human life in six months. The scientists present their findings to the White House, but learn that the “political and media classes can’t or won’t grasp what they’re saying”. There are hints here of Dr. Strangelove and Wag the Dog, but the film is so stuffed with self-aware slapstick that it ends up feeling like a 145-minute Saturday Night Live sketch. Still, if it “helps to do something about climate change, such critical objections are unimportant”. 

This “rollicking political satire” runs out of steam eventually, said Kevin Maher in The Times, but its charismatic (and star-studded) cast more than make up for it. DiCaprio provides a “sympathetic study in febrile insecurity” as a nervy professor, while Lawrence’s PhD student is “fabulously caustic”. Along the way, Mark Rylance pops up as “an eerie tech billionaire”; Timothée Chalamet has a turn as a stoner dropout; and Cate Blanchett is “indecently” good as a news anchor determined to “keep it light, keep it fun” as the apocalypse looms. Engaging and funny as it is, said Tori Brazier in Metro, given the 21 months we’ve just had, I found it a bit much, especially at Christmas: “it’s almost a little too close to home to properly enjoy”. Plus the film, like so many, is just “too long for its own good” – “lopping off half an hour” would have tightened it up nicely.

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