While part of me wishes that I could have made the press screening of Us this past Tuesday, seeing it Thursday night with a regular audience gave me a whole new appreciation for the mastery Jordan Peele has over his audience. It was as if we all were attached to the same marionette strings as Peele deliciously manipulated each second on screen as the tension in the theater reached a feverish pitch. Us represents an ascent for the former Comedy Central star. Audiences are beginning to develop the same level of trust in the Oscar winner’s projects that they have in Christopher Nolan’s. Some have proclaimed that Peele is the next Spielberg, but that’s an insult to his artistry. Rather than attempt to classify amazing talent, let’s appreciate Peele’s vision and unconventional style.
What’s impressive is how everything in Us has a purpose, down to the weapon of choice. Nothing about Peele’s projects ever seems rushed. Both Get Out and Us feel harmless in the initial moments of the first act only to ensnare audiences, refusing to let go. What can I tell you about the film without giving anything away? Well, let’s go with this, the Wilson family (Adelaide played by Lupita Nyong’o, Gabe Wilson played by Winston Duke, and their children Zora & Jason played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) goes on a holiday to Santa Cruz beach which has ties to Adelaide and a terror rising beneath it.
While I loved Peele’s affinity for symbolism (pay close attention or you’ll miss something), the performances given by this ensemble was something to behold. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker (who play neighbors to the Wilson’s) are both fascinating and represent a direct connection to film’s overall theme. Each represented a subtle nod towards a bible verse which referenced numerous times in the movie (you’ll know when you see it). Lupita and Winston were sensational, and I’m sure opened many eyes as to what each is capable of in a leading role.
What tied it all together for me was the score by Michael Abels and cinematography by Mike Gioulakis. Abels skillfully conjured up notes which set my heart racing and correctly set the tone for Peele’s twisted tale. Gioulakis put on a masterclass on making ample use of shadows and well-timed close-ups which struck fear in my heart.
While Us is far more of a conventional tale than Get Out, that doesn’t diminish its brilliance. In fact, in an era where movies such as Trading Paint are being made, supporting projects like this will hopefully lead to better films being made which will only benefit us all.