Monday, March 06, 2017

Jordan Peele's GET OUT: The First Great Film Of 2017

Now playing at a multiplex near us all:

GET OUT (Dir. Jordan Peele, 2017)

GET OUT, The directorial debut of Jordan Peele, best known as half of the sketch comedy duo Key and Peele, is the first great movie of 2017.

I mean I adored THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, but this is some next level shit.

The premise of this film, which has been described by many critics, and its creator, as GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER meets THE STEPFORD WIVES, concerns a 20something black man named Chris (Daniel Kuluuya) who travels with his white girlfriend Rose (Girls’ Allison Williams) to visit her family at their rural estate.

While packing, Chris asks Rose if her parents know that he’s black. She says she hasn’t told them, but that they are liberal and will have no problem with it. Rose even predicts that her father will boast that he would’ve voted for Obama for a third term.

Sure enough, shortly after being welcomed with hugs, Rose’s wealthy surgeon dad Dean (The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford) indeed says: “I would’ve voted for Obama a third time if I could; hands down the best President in my lifetime.”

But despite Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy (Catherine Keener), being so friendly, there is a black handyman Walter (Marcus Henderson) and a black housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who are acting very odd. As Missy is a hypnotherapist it’s hard not to suspect that these people were put under a spell that turned them into this family’s slaves.

Chris’s friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent who’s taking care of Chris’s dog back home, certainly thinks so, blurting into the phone: “White people love making people sex slaves and shit!”

Chris tries to avoid Missy’s offer to put him under hypnosis to help him quit smoking, but finally succumbs and through a risky visual he finds himself helpless and trapped in a black void that she calls “the sunken place.” He wakes up shaken the next morning, but Rose reassures him and it’s on to a big backyard party sequence full of upscale white people who praise Chris and say things like “black is in fashion.”

Every other added character brings more creepiness: Rose’s obnoxious brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), Stephen Root as blind art expert Jim Hunter (who’s well aware of the irony of being a blind art expert, thank you!), and the dapper, docile Logan (LaKeith Stanfield), the only black person at her parents’ party.

Chris thinks he’s met Logan before, but can’t place him. He takes a picture of Logan, during an awkward conversation about race, and the flash makes him freeze, have a nosebleed, then come flailing at Chris yelling several times: “get out!”

That’s as far as I’m going to go with the plot. GET OUT keeps you guessing up to the end, and it’s a fantastic ending. Peele makes great choices all along the way, and it all adds up to a funny, thrilling, ride that makes some wonderfully timely points.

It’s a terrific social satire, but its surreal tinges, i.e. “the sunken place,” are what really give GET OUT its edge. Peele, who wrote the screenplay, has constructed a woke suspenseful scenario that delightfully toys with its protagonist as much as it does its audience.

The underlying message, or one of them anyway, in GET OUT is that the intents of well meaning and well off, liberal white people can be just as dangerous as hardcore cross-burning redneck racists.

This movie, currently #1 at the box office, was %100 on the Rotten Tomatometer until a certain critic, the infamous Armond White of the National Review had to go and ruin that perfect score with his pan (“Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ a Trite Get-Whitey Movie”).

Don’t listen to him. GET OUT is a must see, even if you aren’t a fan of scary films. It transcends that genre and then some. In an interview with Business Insider, Peele said he wants to make more movies about “social demons,” with premises about how “these innately human monsters that are woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact.”

Well, he’s certainly off to a stellar start.

More later...

1 comment:

Chris R said...

Totally agree. Personally, my favourite film since Pulp Fiction. Great review!