Warning: Don’t Look Up spoilers ahead.
Most criticisms of the Adam McKay comedy-drama Don’t Look Up contend that the global warming satire is preaching to the choir. But that religious metaphor is an interesting one considering the film’s treatment of religion: The most sympathetic character may be Yule, the young Christian played by Timothée Chalamet.
It’s interesting that McKay treats Yule with so much respect and affection, because many environmentalists believe Christians could be natural converts to the environmental movement. Yule’s positive portrayal — starting with his being played by the likable Chalamet — feels like an olive branch.
When all hell is breaking loose near the end of the film, it is Yule who provides calm and perspective with a moving and powerful prayer that brings comfort to Dr. Randall Mindy’s largely non-religious household. Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), another character we like, compliments his “church game.” The film’s perspective is pro-Yule. While lead characters Randall (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) are shown to be fairly flawed, Yule is almost saintly.
Why? If you read Don’t Look Up as an attempt to make people care about global warming, you can read the treatment of Yule as a fresh invitation to evangelicals to share in the protection of the environment.
McKay told Variety that he added Yule’s religion to the film when Don’t Look Up co-producer Ron Suskind asked him, “Where’s faith in this movie?
“And I was like, ‘Oh, you’re right. You’re right!’” McKay said. “I think we’re so used to thinking of religion as denominations, and now it’s become a political cudgel in this country. I forgot about real faith. And it was just a lightbulb moment where it’s like, ‘I know who Timothée’s character is.’”
McKay, whose mother was a born-again Christian, also told Variety that the prayer scene “might be my single favorite moment in the entire movie.”
Global warming, like so many things in America, has largely turned into a Democrat vs. Republican issue. But some environmentalists hope that evangelical Christians could be crucial in breaking that standoff.
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Don’t Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.