Monday, June 26, 2017

GET OUT (Jordan Peele, 2017, USA)

Chris Washington is a photographer who captures the world in black and white; little does he know he will soon become victimized by the same dichotomy. First time Director Jordan Peele develops a masterful narrative that works both as a suspenseful horror/science fiction film and as allegory concerning contemporary racism and entitlement.

The story premise is rather quite simple: Chris and Rose are going to spend the weekend with her family but she has not yet divulged the fact to aforementioned family that they are an interracial couple. Though Chris, a black man, shows some slight hesitation Rose assures him that her white parents are not judgmental or prejudiced. It’s within this situation that Director/Writer Jordan Peele begins to dissect the habeas corpus of seemingly superficial prejudice that may disguise the true cancerous intentions and beliefs. Peele successfully accomplishes this by slowly constructing the relationships between Chris and Rose’s family through disquieting though not overtly intentional prejudice. Her family seems like affluent Liberals who have good intentions but come off a bit heavy-handed in their desire to show that they’re not bigoted. It’s a nice critique from Chris’ perspective because his reactions are rather mundane and unsurprising as if he’s been through this type of social interaction before. Yet it should be embarrassing from a Liberal perspective as it holds a mirror up to the culture of Entitlement. But it soon becomes obvious that their motives are specifically odious and far from inclusive.

The first two acts brilliantly build the tension through disarming and uncomfortable dialogue and possibly misunderstood observation. Chris begins to believe that something sinister is happening but his fears are put to bed by Rose, who seems to say all of the right things to allay his concerns. Though there are a few contrivances, credibility in Chris’s actions seem rational. Peele has written a solid script that on one hand defies scientific plausibility yet creates realistic characters that act uniformly intelligently within its fictional boundaries. Then it’s in the final act that blood is shed by all involved.

So what is the film about? Firstly, this is a nerve wracking thriller that is a joy to watch. All of the actors are excellent but Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington truly steals the film as the empathetic protagonist. He has to balance sensitivity and bitterness and not portray himself as prejudiced himself by jumping to conclusions or losing patience with the family too quickly. Alison Williams as Rose also has the task of being the perfect girlfriend but not "too perfect" thus calling attention to her true intentions. And Lil Rel Howery is excellent as the best friend that we all wish we had! Secondly, the film is about relationships and social convention. What is truly unsettling is that Peele writes a very natural and loving relationship between two people and agonizingly subverts it. That is part of the real horror. Can we ever trust the one we love? Roses' nuclear and extended family are also ripe with smug condescension and kindly superiority, treating Chris like an outsider but expecting him to not be bright enough to realize it. Lastly, the film is about slavery. It’s about subsumation of an entire race and culture hidden neatly behind a Liberal fa├žade. The Armitage family doesn’t just own their victims’ physicality; they literally own their minds too.

GET OUT balances uncomfortable humor and violent thrills and gives us an ending that is neither benign nor resigned. We are left pondering Chris’ fate and hope that the conspiracy isn’t able to rearrange the crime scene before a Just verdict is allowed. Fortunately Chris finds the strength to resist and fight back and doesn’t need a well-intentioned white intervention to save him: he has transitioned from victim to survivor.

Final Grade: (A)