Sunday, August 20, 2017


Released to major critical acclaim and audience enthusiasm, "Get Out" is still the film of 2017. Marking the debut feature of Jordan Peele of "Key and Peele", it satirizes our current sociopolitical climate with his trademark humor and wit. And as white supremacy continues to rear its ugly head, this clever horror-comedy has become even more timely 6 months later.

For anyone going into the film blind, the premise seems simple at first. A successful young black photographer named Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) is nervously preparing to meet the parents of his pretty, rich white girlfriend Rose Armitages (a perfectly cast Allison Williams). As they make their way to the Armitage's affluent surburban home, things get off to an ominous start, as their car hits a deer on the way. When a cop arrives to assess the situation, undue attention is paid to Chris, who innocently sat in the passenger seat. Confidently defending her boyfriend, Rose handles a potentially fatal situation. But a larger, more sinister racist plot awaits them in the suburbs, in this modern, amped up take on "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".

For any satire to be effective, it needs to be funny, smart and true. With his background in sketch comedy, the humour comes easily to Peele, as he writes characters and situations that are absolutely hilarious. Most notably, the paranoia of Chris' best friend character Rod (played by LilRel Howery) provides some of the film's funniest moments. As an inquisitive TSA agent, his investigation into the mysteries of Chris' suburban nightmare is pure comedic gold. Hypothesizing about possible sex slavery and brainwashing, he is essentially the audience surrogate, warning our hero of the dangers he may face.

Of course, what makes it all the more amusing is the fact that Rod's suspicions are well-placed. Without going into spoiler territory, the eventual reveal of the underlying sci-fi premise plays brilliantly off the notions of white privilege and exploitation. Indeed, one scene is a blatant nod to the auction blocks of the slavery era, disguised as a harmless game of bingo.

But while Howery brings the laughs with every frantic, concerned phone call and the script delivers the sci-fi smarts, what really hits home is the film's scathing truths. Namely, the truth that our outward personalities and attitudes are often just a performance. Whether its the seemingly tolerant white Obama-voters or the blind man who claims to be supportive of the black photographer with a great eye, these nice "allies" could be just as integral to maintaining the unjust status quo.

As Chris comes to terms with this reality, Kaluuya is tremendous at conveying the character's unease. Among an excellent cast, he is the standout, perfectly capturing the awkwardness and incredulity experienced when faced with subtle racism. He is a hero we immediately sympathize with and root for when the film shifts gears in the final act.

With its humor, thematic depth and the nuance of its social critique, "Get Out" is worth praise on ambition alone. But if it manages to make it into the Oscar conversation, that will surely be credited to Peele's impressive direction. Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations are surely on the cards for Peele's astute handling of the film's shifting tones, from the deadpan apathy of the aforementioned bingo game to the ballsy thrills of the film's conclusion. Furthermore, his unique visual concepts reflect the imagination of a true visionary. "Get Out" is undoubtedly just the beginning of an exciting film career which I will certainly be following with keen interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment