Throughout Don’t Look Up, a movie that I generally thought to be forgettable, it was clear which archetype each character was meant to fulfill. Leonardo DiCaprio was the anxious scientist, Jennifer Lawrence was the alternative chick who doesn’t have a filter, Meryl Streep was the idiotic leader who ruins everything. Yada yada. But I was absolutely perplexed and riveted by one truly memorable role: Timothée Chalamet as the character “Yule.”
Who the fuck was Yule supposed to be?
We’re first introduced to him as he talks about some cryptocurrency called “ratcoin” with his friends at a store where Lawrence’s character works. He’s wearing a backwards camo baseball hat and some type of military fatigue jacket; he also sports a mullet. Lawrence later makes out with him while they drink around a bonfire behind some type of strip mall.
Attempting to read Yule’s costume design has proven to be a challenge. Features of his look seem to signify both hipster-ish appropriation of the working/lower class and a non-appropriative use of those aesthetics, too. This isn’t to say it can’t be both, or that “appropriation” is inherently negative in this context. Nobody really gives a fuck who wears camo or has a mullet, and nobody technically has ownership over these signifiers. But I do have to wonder what is being signified by placing them upon Yule.
Is Yule wearing camo in the way someone who lives in this anonymous Illinois town and hunts might? Or is he wearing it in the way someone who lives in this anonymous Illinois town and wants to look like he hunts ironically? There’s really no way to know, because the film never gives us enough to make a determination. We know he uses Twitch, loves fingerling potatoes and, maybe surprisingly, has a solid relationship with God (or at least the language to demonstrate a familiarity with prayer). He could literally be anyone.
It seems, though, that plenty of individuals like his character quite a bit. At least, people on Twitter (many of whom may already have been Chalamet stans) are sharing fancams of Yule and asking for prequels focusing on his character. While there’s plenty of criticism to be found of the movie as a whole, very little of it is centered upon Yule.
Still, Yule doesn’t really offer much of anything to the story, except maybe a glance at a softer side of Lawrence’s character. Above all, it seems like an opportunity to shove Chalamet into a movie already stuffed with stars — it’s almost as if he caught wind that the movie was in production and said, “Everyone else is doing this one, why can’t I?”
That said, I like Chalamet as Yule. It may be one of his funnest roles yet. Dare I say, he’s a little bit hot in this type of scummy, symbolically ambiguous look. Maybe it’s the ratty wig, but finally, at long last, Chalamet looks like he’s playing someone other than himself. Maybe this ambiguity is a strength to his character, above all else. In a film loaded with obvious archetypes, Yule is almost mercifully opaque — or maybe that’s just the camo.