Talk Film Society - Seal of Approval: Us
The Talk Film Society - Seal of Approval is awarded to those films the staff here deem worthy of your attention.
Our first Seal of Approval recipient of 2019 is Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning debut film Get Out, Us. The film has already made an impact in the film world, breaking box office records and immediately diving in the cultural consciousness. But saying that, it’s proven to be divisive, frustrating both audiences and critics alike. Ultimately, we have to ask, is it any good? How does it hold up as Peele’s sophomore effort after his earth-shattering first feature? And, is it really a film worthy of our accolade, which includes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, A Star is Born, Mandy, Widows, and Suspiria?
The answer to those questions are, yes, very well, and of course it is.
Here’s what our writers thought of the film:
“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep over the last few days after seeing Us. I keep hearing “I Got 5 on It,” and my mind is just racing with theories, clues, hints, and allusions. Jordan Peele’s follow-up is messy, unwieldy, and withholding. For me, it’s unshakable, even if it’s not the perfectly constructed horror metaphor that Get Out was. Lupita Nyong’o delivers a visceral, full-bodied performance, complemented by a game supporting cast. The movie doesn’t quite hold together, and often leaves more questions than answers. But it’s a must-see experience, with elegantly-crafted scares and moments of cathartic humor. Peele packs in enough Easter eggs and breadcrumbs to warrant repeat viewings (much like Get Out), however some of the machinations of the plot fall apart under scrutiny. And yet I cannot recommend Us enough. It’s a uniquely-shaped, unforgettable horror movie, and more evidence that Peele is a fully formed voice in the horror genre.” - Manish Mathur
“Walking into Us this last week, my expectations were the highest they have been for a new release since A Star is Born. I had heard nothing but amazing things coming from SXSW, but I’ll admit I was also a little nervous because how someone could follow up Get Out was beyond me. I should have known better, because if anyone could have done it, it’s Jordan Peele. Us is a completely visceral movie-going experience that leaves you no choice but to be fully immersed in every last second of it. I think what most people will praise about it is the performances from the main cast of actors, particularly Lupita Nyong’o’s, and rightfully so. As I was watching Us, I constantly thought I had the movie figured out or knew what social commentary it was trying to make, but every passing minute proved my previous ideas wrong, and I loved it. It kept me (and everyone else in the completely sold out theater) guessing until the very end, and even then never fully gives itself away. I can’t wait to watch this movie at least a dozen more times, and for that, Us is one-hundred-percent Ale-Approved.” - Alejandra Gonzalez
“It’s hard to go too in depth without spoiling many of the best parts of the film. There’s a lot to unpack about the ideas within Us. There’s so much thematic complexity that I’m certain film professionals and academics will be unpacking it for years. And if the potential of a million different readings and interpretations wasn’t enough to earn infinite rewatches, the movie is damn entertaining. Peele has made another instant classic in the horror genre that many future generations will cherish.” - Callie Smith, from her review.
”I’m an Easter egg obsessive. I came into Us expecting to be on my toes and work out a theory of its connection to Jordan Peele’s overall philosophy and where it fit with Get Out in a shared universe, and was excited to decipher what the video cassettes on the shelves meant in the film’s first scene. And within 15 minutes I was completely unnerved and twitching and now I’m making sure the bald guy with a beard at the end of the road isn’t just a mirror universe version of myself. Us subverts your every expectation and makes you question not just the film’s ideas, but how they are reflected in your daily life. In a time when we have more questions about our future than answers, Us cuts through the distractions and asks you who you are at your core. And it’ll leave you scared shitless no matter how bright and welcoming it is when you walk out of that theater.” - Nick Isaac
“Halfway through Us I had two distinct thoughts running through my mind: “Oh, wow, this is scary and tense and oh my god,” and also, “Oh wow, I’m watching the next great horror writer-director at work.” I hate to throw around grand statements, but it’s hard not to think about what it was like watching John Carpenter work in his heyday. Imagine Peele releasing a succession of smart, genre pictures similar to Carpenter’s run in the ‘70s and ‘80s. If Us is any indication, Peele has the potential to reach those heights, and beyond. And if anything, Peele has the social awareness and forward thinking to make a film as polarizing as The Thing and They Live, if you take some audience and critic responses into consideration. It might indeed be too early enough to tell, but I have a good feeling Us will stick to America’s ribs, along with Get Out, for years, and even decades to come.” - Marcelo Pico
“Us SLAPS. It is a lot of movie. The less you know going in the better. Go see it. Now. That’s all I have. Anything more and my brain falls apart” - Harrison Brockwell
Us is in theaters now.