Finally I had the chance to see the movie that has taken the US by storm as one half of Key & Peele used a small budget and turned it into an international blockbuster!
It didn’t take long into the movie to understand what all the fuss was about. Outside of 12 Years a Slave, I think it is possibly the most poignant race film in the last few years; Incredibly, it is not the violence that should create the uncomfortable feeling in everyone who sees it.
What Peele has created, is a masterpiece that throughout reminds me of the hugely successful TV show Black Mirror. It has been described as part comedy but in my opinion it’s a stretch; without the excellently delivered relief provided by LilRel Howery – as Chris’ funny TSA friend – there were few moments of true comedic value. Instead, the film portrays America – society as a whole in fact – through a Distopian and satirical lens that Peele is so good at (just look at the Key & Peele racist zombie skit). As mentioned before, it is the sarcastic portrayal of Caucasians speaking to African-Americans in an overly friendly and patronising way in an attempt to not appear racist [yet through their stereotypical imitations are overtly prejudiced] that is truly the uncomfortable part of the film for me because of its macroscopic representation of society.
It is because of this take on racial issues so pressing for society, I think, that Peele elected to cast the talented British newcomer Daniel Kaluuya as the protagonist Chris Washington. With it seeming to channel the lens in which it looks at civilization though from Black Mirror, it appears clear that the Fifteen Million Merits episode from the show was effectively Daniel’s audition tape. Spoiler alert; Daniel’s talents transferred seamlessly and he is fantastic throughout.
More impressively, the film is as effective as a thriller/horror as it is a poignant swipe taken at racial issues in today’s world. You are made very early on to be unnerved by the overly friendly family of Chris’ Caucasian girlfriend’s family; even more disconcerting were the only other black people at the retreat who don’t appear themselves at all!
The audience are enshrouded with paranoia with Chris and his hilarious sidekick seemingly the only trustworthy characters in the film and Peele seems to throw in many of the old school horror tactics. Jump scares are accompanied by off-key piano or even Flanagan & Allen, and whilst predictable you can’t help but chew through to your knuckles at the suspense as you hope your premonitions are proved wrong.
On the whole, a very strong directorial debut for Jordan Peele. It works effectively as both an important approach to mock those who believe racism ended in Selma whilst also entertaining as a thriller. The characters are developed enough that you genuinely do hope for a positive outcome – for those who deserve it – and whilst a bit on the simple/predictable side, the plot has enough substance to buy into and enjoy.
I certainly bought into it so much that I lost my car park ticket in all the commotion and spent 20 minutes trying to escape so I can definitely vouch for this movie; so I thoroughly recommend you Get Out and see it.