Get Out (2017)
Synopsis: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate. -IMDb.com
Director: Jordan Peele (M)
Writer: Jordan Peele (M)
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya (M), Allison Williams (W), Catherine Keener (W)
If Daniel Kaluuya doesn’t become a huge star now I’ll throw a fit, because he is mesmerising in this. Kaluuya plays Chris, a black New Yorker who is carefully navigating his first encounter with his girlfriend’s white up-state family. His girlfriend, Rose (played by Girls’ Allison Williams) seems to be unaware or in denial of any potential issues their interracial relationship may pose to her family. Which is an excellent analogy for the way millennial lefties like to approach race in general.
The tokenistic efforts we make as privileged people hoping to look engaged or informed (See: the retracted Pepsi commercial) are conversely, frequently ways of sticking our head in the sand. By saying “I don’t see colour” what we’re really saying is “la la la race issues don’t exist”. In Get Out, Rose evokes this ignorance by ‘forgetting’ to tell her parents that Chris is black prior to their meeting, leaving Chris to handle their impromptu reaction, good or bad.
As it happens Rose’s parents (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) make many efforts to appear comfortable with Chris’ blackness, which in some ways is more awkward than the alternative. What ensues is a farce of white guilt, all wild-eyed smiles and Obama complements. I can imagine this being hilarious (or at least cathartic) for POC. As a white person it’s painful to see our shame-ridden I-swear-I’m-not-a-rascist pantomime acted out. I laughed at some of the lines, and some just echoed around my head reminding me of misguided things I’ve said or done in the past. Big up Jordan Peele for hitting the mark so well here.
For the sake of no spoilers, I’ll keep this to a minimum, but the ending disappointed me somewhat. This film gives great Hitchcockian suspense up until the last ten minutes, when for me it all fell a little flat. Speaking as a horror nut, I recognise that a good pay-off involves a certain amount of fear for the character’s life, but Peele seemed too eager to get him to safety and missed a level of torment that one craves in these kinds of films. Perhaps living as a black person in America is pre-amble ordeal enough though? Oh god, maybe that’s it *depressing*
While Chris is played to perfection, some of the other characters missed the mark a little for me. I wanted more from Katherine Keener as Rose’s psychiatrist mother, who came off apathetic to me and I found the black resident’s of the rural area to be more comically robotic rather than chillingly Stepford. Special mention to LilRel Howery however, who plays Chris’ best friend Rod. He provides much-needed comic relief, delivers some cracking one-liners, and I just fucking loved him.
All up this is a great movie, and I hope we have more horror films dealing with this stuff so head-on. Horror and comedy (of which Get Out is both) are great at tackling the subjects we fear the most and this film tackles two: Fear of white racism and, if you’re white, fear of ourselves.
Disclaimer: I recognise that Get Out wasn’t necessarily aimed at me (a white person), so I welcome any comments/anger from POC who read the film differently to me.