Let’s get right to it. I think (Academy Award Winner) Jordan Peele’s Us is fecking brilliant. Yup it’s true. It took me about an hour post-screening to reach this conclusion. But ever since I did, that’s the mood.
And please, do not take the brevity of my words here for anything else except that I do not want to give anything away. I’m just trying to use them wisely.
At the end of the day, whatever you interpret or however you read the actions that take place in the film, you need to know one thing – you are right.
While there are a few on-the-nose takeaways to be had, ultimately Peele has constructed a complex story and presented it in a non-self important way. He is neither spoon-feeding nor going above our collective heads. Rather, he is laying out the story and asking us to keep up. It makes for quite an entertaining experience.
All that said, I would like to point out a few things that I think it are important for an audience to know going into the film:
Not really horror.
Fear not, those who are a little skittish about venturing into the genre. Sure, there are a few nods and notes in the film which fall decidedly in the category of slasher horror, but like he did in Get Out, Peele subverts expectations for what is defined as truly horrifying or terrifying. If you do need a reference point, may I offer you up a non-spoilery one – in terms of plot, Peele has stated Us is inspired by the classic Twilight Zone episode titled Mirror Image.
Trans-formative (term used literally) Performances.
While fellow Academy Award Winner Lupita Nyong’o is the clear standout due to having to do the most work, all the performances are worth paying every bit of attention to. Without giving away anything that was not seen in the trailers, the way our central family portrays their doppelgangers is quite good, especially when you consider that when the cameras are rolling, the performers are most likely acting to a stand-in or a mark.
Striking the Right Notes (Musically-Speaking)
Music is a vital component of every film. In Us, whether it is a seemingly innocent whistle or use of popular music, there are some fantastic cues which punctuate the scenes. I really did not want to forget calling this out, since it is something that may get overlooked in terms of its importance.
Symmetrical, not Linear.
I’ll admit, the film might feel a little jarring to in moments. But fear not – keep in mind this film is about symmetry not linearity. Sure, it follows a traditional narrative structure, but the key moments in Us are mirrors or reflective of something else shown at different points in the film. Sometimes it is perfect, often times it is an inverted (or distorted) reflection one sees. But it is wonderful however you look at it.
Speaking of Symmetry, Maybe Go See this in Pairs (at least)
Why, you may ask?
There is a whole lot to discuss about this film once you see it. You will not want to keep any of it to yourself. In fact, as I write this review, videos, tweets and the like are popping up all over social media with everyone’s read and interpretation of Us – beginning, middle and especially the end. It definitely is a worthy conversation piece and one that I have not had about a movie for quite some time.
If it is not already abundantly clear, I think Us is a fantastic entry in my ongoing cinematic education. Through a well developed narrative and some wonderful visual storytelling, Peele gives us something that shows Get Out is no fluke – and for my money, it tops that film. I suspect that there are more weird and wonderful journeys into his whatever his mind cooks up in the future (and yeah, I know about the CBS All-Access Twilight Zone reboot he is helming).