July 4, 2022

“Reality was getting crazier than my scenario, written before the pandemic”

What do the living do when their end approaches? They go home, answer Don’t Look Up. Cosmic denial, Adam McKay’s tragicomedy on Netflix. As a comet threatens to annihilate Earth, the astronomer played by Leonardo DiCaprio returns to his homes. The car radio broadcasts To Then (1944), a ballad by the Mills Brothers, where a soldier yearns for his motherland. Behind its $ 100 million budget and its stellar cast, here is the delicate challenge that McKay’s ninth achievement takes up: expressing homesickness, by marrying the comic and the cosmic.

Started in 2004 with Featured presenter. The Legend of Ron Burgundy, fueled by Trumpism and the Covid-19 pandemic, his satire on the evils that plague America has never seemed so topical – triumph over idiocy, lies and predation. To which McKay opposes the virtues cemented during his years of theater, in Chicago, then during his work for the cinema or the television: the oratorical jubilation; the sense of burlesque; fidelity to oneself and to one’s family. He responds to World, from his holiday home in Ireland where he wrote Don’t Look Up and where his ancestors are from.

Read the review: Article reserved for our subscribers “Don’t Look Up. Cosmic denial ”: comet Mckay launched against the buffoonery of humanity

You say you increased the “degree of madness” of your film by 15%, after the arrival of Covid-19 and the invasion of the Capitol …

That’s right ! Reality was getting crazier than the first version of my script, written before the pandemic. I removed elements that were too close to the news. For example, I had imagined the vote of a tax gift for the richest 1%, linked to the comet; however, Trump ended up doing the same. On the other hand, the denial of scientific truth during the pandemic marked me. So, I chose to accentuate this aspect of the scenario.

What feeds this denial?

Because of having placed our means of communication under the aegis of profit. It is screaming in the United States: everything is monetized there. And the number one rule of business is that the customer is always right. Most media are designed to make people feel like they are never wrong: if you want them to watch the commercial, you better not bring them bad news.

Why does media criticism occupy such a place in your films?

Nowadays, information is a weapon, a science of corrosion. It is one of the characteristics of our time. The instrumentalization of data, algorithms, the race for viral news have changed our lives, our ways of feeling, even the timbre of our voices. The tragedy is that this escape from reality does us a lot of good in the short term. It is the amplification of an already old phenomenon: I was a kid in the 1970s, when cable TV appeared; I have seen the proliferation of channels, the arrival of the Internet, the cell phone… I feel old, even though I am only 53 years old. On The Big Short [2015], Vice [2018] and Don’t Look Up, with my editor and my composer, we tried to make information a character in its own right.

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