Director: Jordan Peele
Screenwriters: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elizabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
I loved Get Out, and it’s hard to not compare the two films. One thing I prefer about Us is that it leaves you with just as many questions as answers.
Is it unethical to kidnap the more privileged version of yourself to create a better life for yourself?
Is the real protagonist the one fighting to bring up quality of life for a downtrodden segment of society?
Maybe the themes about gaps between people are too vague for some, but the most obvious interpretation is a critique of the wealth gap. The Wilsons have a summer house, a nice car and a private boat while the bizarro Wilsons are tunnel-bound, dining on rabbit tartare. Peele turns a form of traditional rabbit symbology on its head; a symbol of status and class (my brain went right to The Favourite) becomes associated with the destitute. Also, watching Lupita Nyong’o cut off a toy rabbit’s head screams French Revolution to me.
This film is reminiscent of classic horror stories, especially those written by Stephen King, though instead of a vacation house in Maine, they’re in Santa Cruz. The beginning takes place in the past during a traumatic childhood experience, there are nostalgic elements and the horror is slow to come and includes very unsettling images, the wince-inducing inclusion of scissors being one of them.
Scissors always remind me of Red Dragon (“I’ll cut it off” makes me cringe) and are an incredibly visceral tool in horror. Just imagine the slow, inevitable snip into an achilles or throat. The anticipation of how scissors will be used is effective enough in this movie, and we’re thankfully spared too many scissor-related deaths.
Parenthood and family are the overwhelming ever-present themes in Us, and seeing that parental nightmare played out on screen (even if they are killer versions of the kids) is absolutely affecting. The matriarch is central to both, with Lupita Nyong’o being great in both of her roles and the clear standout of the entire project.
Us is the best movie of 2019 so far.