Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Jennifer Lawrence

QuickView: Causeway (2022)

“If it get dark now, you just ride it.”


Ostensibly about a soldier recovering from PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan, Causeway broadens its focus midway into a wider examination of trauma outside its initial military context. Within the space of a smaller film, Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry have the freedom to deliver understated and introspective performances as new friends trying to heal. The Louisiana setting provides an uncomfortable environment in its oppressive heat, but the slower pace of life also makes the sudden friendship ring truer. Lynsey is not presented lazily as merely a victim and her growth ultimately requires dealing with a past that she has sought to outrun. Free of fiery flashbacks — the frequently used cinematic language that inaccurately depicts trauma — Causeway instead presents the more innocuous impacts like memory loss and sudden waves of debilitating emotion. Observational rather than explosive, Neuberger’s debut feature might not be ambitious in its reach, but it firmly grasps what it touches.


QuickView: Don’t Look Up (2021)

“You guys, the truth is way more depressing. They are not even smart enough to be as evil as you’re giving them credit for.”

Kate Dibiaski

Written pre-pandemic as a satire of human inaction in the face of climate change, Don’t Look Up‘s commentary on scientists and experts being ignored in favour of entertainment and maintaining the status quo feels even more relevant in the COVID era, but relevance does not automatically equate to success. Don’t Look Up is Adam McKay’s bleakest work to date and features fewer creative flourishes, unfolding in a rather straightforward and heavy-handed fashion. Its satirical tone is wry rather than biting, which seems oddly insufficient for its end-of-the-world subject matter; by the end it has shifted more toward farce than insightful social commentary. The failure to skewer its targets more decisively may be necessary to reach the broad audience it desires, its “both sides” approach peaking with the wilful ignorance of a crowd chanting “don’t look up” paralleled with another crowd showering adoration on a pop star singing a vapidly meaningless “just look up” power ballad. The stellar cast produces dramatically and comedically compelling performances, and name-recognition alone should allow the film to meet Netflix’s success metrics, but they are not written with any emotional depth or sympathy. Don’t Look Up is arguably most effective when it broadens its scope to target media obsessed by “engagement” and tech industry billionaires’ self-aggrandisement and control over a political system hopelessly corrupted by wealth and self-interest. Its meandering focus is exacerbated by poor editing that allows the film to run over two and a half hours, when its ideas might have been more effectively communicated in a tighter 90-minute cut. As for reflection on how individuals respond to an apocalyptic crisis, McKay’s perspective is painfully shallow by comparison to existing efforts like Von Trier’s Melancholia or Scafario’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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