Review: Get Out
Jordan Peele — one half of the brilliant comedy duo Key & Peele — has made his solo directorial debut with one of the most invigorating and incisively funny films I have seen in ages. Simply put: Get Out knocks its audience out of well-intentioned apathy with an absolutely brilliant script.
The film revolves around a young black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who visits his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) house over the weekend. When Rose reveals to Chris that she has yet to tell her parents that he’s black, Chris has some reservations about going. But Rose insists that her family won’t have any problem with it saying, “My dad would have voted for Obama for a third term.”
As Chris and Rose spend the weekend at the family house, Rose’s well-intentioned father and mother awkwardly ignore Chris’s race at every turn, allowing the proverbial elephant in the room to balloon to spectacularly funny effect. You can tell this film is directed by a visual comic as Peele not only directs his actors with a wonderful sense of comedic timing, but the same visual generic tropes he used in the Key & Peele skits are on full display here: muted colors, harsh lighting, and deer collisions are all expertly used. And, when Peele gets deep into the hypnosis subplot of the film, he clearly has a blast tearing down the walls of logic constraining the film while experimenting visually. There are clear visual influences from films like Being John Malkovich to Under the Skin, to even something as recent as It Follows.
However, despite all of the wonderful work from Williams, Kaluuya, and the rest, it is Chris’s TSA agent friend, played by LilRel Howery, who absolutely steals the show. In the several phone conversations Kaluuya has with him, as the family weekend grows more and more bizarre, Howery goes full-on conspiracy theorist warning Chris that if he isn’t vigilant the visit could go the way of “the Donner party”. Howery consistently has some of the most rapturously funny lines and, thankfully, he is never overused or played for too long in any given scene.
All this having been said, Peele does seem to muddle some of his messages for the sake of narrative expediency. For example, the central interracial relationship is probed, we see how it discomfits the very racially homogenous family, how it draws reactions from both the white and black communities, and Peele even begins down a deeper exploration of the dynamics between people in an interracial relationship. However, at the end of the film, there isn’t really a clear message. This would be fine, but the choice to raise the thread makes it feel incomplete when the credits role. The lack of real resolution is especially noticeable given how deftly Peele navigates other complex themes and situations, like police brutality, well-intentioned complacency, and lasting systems of oppression.
But, despite this thematic stumble, Get Out still plunges through the finish line with a force rarely seen in comedy films of any budget today. It’s intelligent, creepy, hilarious, and most of all exhilarating. Ultimately, though, the best praise I can bestow upon the film is that the last minute of Get Out had my entire audience at once left mouths agape and absolutely dying of laughter. If this is what Peele’s first film has to offer, I can only eagerly anticipate what else he has in store.