Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie with Abe: Get Out

Get Out
Directed by Jordan Peele
Released February 24, 2017

I really didn’t want to see this movie. I remember watching the trailer for the first time in theaters right around when all the big awards movies from last year were coming out, and I was so creeped out and uninterested that I would intentionally try to leave to use the bathroom when the trailer started to play before other films. Now, awards season is again upon us, and for some reason this film appears to be a frontrunner, first in the Comedy/Musical race at the Golden Globes and then eventually at the Oscars, and my desire not to see it wasn’t going to do much to change that, especially since that same hoping didn’t stop “Mad Max: Fury Road” from earning many top-tier awards nominations. After having seen it, I don’t feel particularly enlightened.

As the trailer indicated, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) travels with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to spend the weekend at her parents’ home. He meets Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), who seem very nice if a little too aware of the fact that he’s black. As the budding photographer spends more time with them, he realizes that their two black employees – a gardener (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper (Betty Gabriel) – are both acting very strangely, a thought he initially shakes off until he realizes that there is something horribly wrong in this secluded, white-dominated situation.

There’s a lot simmering behind what’s presented as fact and plot in this film, indicated early by Rose’s aggressive reaction to a police officer’s demand to see Chris’ license after they hit a deer when she was the one driving, signaling that she, unlike most white people, actively notices and combats the overt racism around her. The disturbing truth of what goes on in this film – which I won’t spoil even though it hardly seems surprising given how things begin – is something much darker and more sinister, meant to evoke conversation about how possible this kind of scenario could be since racism and segregation do still pervade today’s society.

The question of how well it works as a film taken at face value is a different one. People are rightly confused about why this film would be perceived as a comedy since to laugh at it is only to acknowledge the unfortunate state of the world, and it far better fits the definition of thriller or horror. Fearing the latter, I was relieved to find far fewer jump scenes than I had expected and even been warned of, though it still ranks as dark and disturbing enough to merit that classification. Kaluuya is indeed good, playing his role perfectly, and the rest of the cast succeeds as well.

Yet this film isn’t nearly as extraordinary in any sense as most seem to believe, and its function as allegory shouldn’t be lumped in with its cinematic quality, which is decent, off-putting, and unspectacular. Horror fans might enjoy it for a bit more braininess and social commentary than usual, but I see no reason why awards groups should be heaping nearly as much praise on it as I’ve seen throughout the year. It’s certainly not in the same category as “The Silence of the Lambs” or “Aliens,” two genre movies that scored with Oscar voters. I know that I’m likely in the minority here, but this film just didn’t win me over.


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