a review by the
Oh, hasn’t this taken a long time to show up here?
The Team: Opening Thoughts
The Crow: In his very first directorial effort, Jordan Peele knocks everything out of the park with Get Out. The movie — released near the tail-end of an… interesting time for race relations in the United States — explores fears that are personal to the director.
We’ve had some trouble in making this post, considering how long it’s been since the movie was released, and how detached we’ve become from the incidents that were happening around the time of the movie’s release. To add to that, there’s little we can say that hasn’t been said already.
Therefore, instead of talking about the movie as related to the cultural context of the time, we’re only going to be looking at it as an isolated production.
And to top it all: Get Out is a movie that’s hard to speak about without spoiling the horrors contained within it. So, we’re going to treat this review as one that only covers MODERATE spoilers (meaning: we’ll only go a little further than what was revealed in the promotional material for the movie).
We understand that this means there’s a lot of ground we’re leaving out of our journey, but we’d like to do a good job with what we have.
That said, let’s put a marker on our maps, and
The Crow: Get Out
Premise: Get Out features Chris (Daniel Kaluuya; played by Zailand Adams in flashbacks), a young man who is about to visit his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams)’s parents for the first time. The couple have been in a relationship for some time, and despite Rose’s many reassurances, Chris continues to maintain some concern about how her parents will react to the fact that he is African American.
Arriving at the family estate following an accident (their vehicle hits a deer on the way) and a minor altercation with a police officer, Chris is introduced to her parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) Armitage. In getting to know them, things begin to get a little… unsettling. Rose’s father in particular seems to be over-compensating with his displays of acting “cool” with the “black people” — in ways that quickly become both embarrassing, and tiresome. He idolises Jesse Owens (who defeated his father at the Olympics, long ago), would’ve voted for Obama a third time, so on and so forth.
But — perhaps — that’s just how a man who lives far away from multicultural society acts? Don’t ask me. I wouldn’t really know. I know only a small selection of people of the sort (resistant to multiculturalism).
He continues to embarrass himself, almost earning pity from the audience, as Chris smiles and nods and does his utmost best to keep the man from realising what an arse he’s making of himself, as heavy and grating as Dean’s attempts may be.
And then Chris meets “the Help”: Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson), and it begins to slowly become clear that things in the Armitage household aren’t as normal as they seem.
Thoughts: The first thing commonly said about the movie is that Get Out is solely about race and racial identity. Of course, the ideas are very much present. They make up the core of the movie and are played around with in interesting ways, but there are other (admittedly minor when compared) themes on display.
The answer to whether or not the Armitage family (and their ilk) is racist is a resounding yes, so let’s get that out of the way first. It might seem they aren’t racist in the “traditional” way, but that’s the point. Racism doesn’t only manifest in one form.
But it’s not racism in the sense of “black people are evil! Lynch them!”. It’s racist in a far deeper way. This isn’t about ingratiating oneself into “black culture” to prop up ones’ own need for looking “cool” — or whatever the term one wants to use for it is. What starts out as the Armitage family’s pretending to have no issues with the existence of an African American man so close to the family extends not just to the weird over-compensation Dean exhibits, but runs into (later, once the rest of the family arrives) co-opting speech patterns commonly associated with young black American males, slipping themselves into the “cool” crowd by way of name-dropping famous African American athletes (much like Dean himself), and just by downright stereotyping Chris.
And it’s all pretty annoying.
However, Chris deals with it in a fashion that’s level-headed enough. These people are just plain weird, and they’re rubbing him the wrong way, but he doesn’t really care. They’re just making themselves look stupid and he’d rather just not have to deal with it.
And the moment he comes to that realisation, the truth of what’s happening hits the audience like a sledgehammer. It’s foreshadowed, it’s woven into the dialogue, but in no way can the audience expect just how far this movie is willing to take its concept. And when it does, it works brilliantly as a science-horror with heavy doses of psychological thriller mixed in.
Execution: Get Out features incredible performances from every member of the cast. Daniel Kaluuya has really come a long way since we first saw him, and he does a fine job as Chris. Dean, Missy, and their son Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) all fit their roles like Lego brickwork, as does the blind art dealer Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) — who might be one of the best-written supporting characters in the movie.
But the true shining stars are Rose and — the comic-relief — Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery). Howery’s performance is such a suprise to see in a movie of this sort, and yet, he works perfectly as a character in the strange world of Get Out. It’s not a stretch to say that I see great things in Howery’s future (hopefully, it’s not all just comedy).
Rose, on the other hand, is perhaps my favourite character in the movie. Williams’ performance is …shattering. I won’t give away much about what she does, but watching her flip between her two allegiances is such a joy to watch (I understand that others might be more inclined to use different wording for what I’m talking about).
The visuals are composed well, and the background score really ties what’s going on together. I particularly enjoy the bare-faced use of motifs and symbolism in the movie, but the aspect in which the movie really shines is the writing.
The writing in Get Out is slick and witty. And even though it’s thoroughly American, speaks to a very global audience. After all, issues of racial identity aren’t bound by arbitrary borders.
There are secrets woven into the writing, and they don’t take much effort to figure out. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve, and doesn’t leave you guessing what it’s alluding to. I’m honestly quite surprised at the level of skill displayed, here. The subplot regarding Chris’ mother is a masterstroke, in this regard. The work in Get Out speaks of veterancy, and considering this is Jordan Peele’s first work in cinema, I’m nothing but excited to see what else he has to show us.
Overall, Get Out is a solid movie that works as piece of a horror, a piece of soft science fiction (and science fiction in general), a stern look at racism in many of its forms, and at the isolation of an individual.
It’s been a while since I first watched the movie, but even on our rewatch last week, I found that the movie holds up just as well as it did the first time. I posit that because of the way the movie’s crafted, Get Out will take time to age. Even though we’ve left out all mention of the cultural context surrounding the movie, I don’t think Get Out is a movie that is a product of the times. It’s what Mr Peele said: something that’s been personal to him for a long time.
I actually think the movie breaks that cultural context.
Personally, I think I would’ve preferred the original ending, but I can see why audiences reacted negatively to it. I can see the need for a happier ending for Chris, but still think that the movie would have worked better — in my estimation — with a more brutal end to drive home the realities Mr Peele was working with.
A great movie, and one that I highly recommend.
Note: While I would turn you over to my the Azure-Winged Magpie at this point, she’s running a little behind with her own review. So for now, I’ll sign off here, and hope she doesn’t take too long to give you her thoughts on Get Out.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 7/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 8.5/10
Here’s the official poster: