After a long, dull Spring Break full of watching my friends’ Snapchat stories of their endless amounts of fun in the sun, I enjoyed specifically one night: last Wednesday when I saw Jordan Peele’s Us. And I’ll be damned, Peele did it again.
Us follows a typical American family who returns to the summer home of the mother Adelaide “Addie” (played by Lupita Nyong’o, who brings strong and assertive mother instincts to the screen). As the main character, Addie carries the story with her intensity and pure love for her children, as her family faces a group of murderous dopplegangers. Nyong’o’s expressive face set with brilliantly-lit close-up shots makes you feel her struggle for every inch of her life, leaving you on the edge of your seat.
Addie’s husband Gabe (Winston Duke) brings flashbacks of Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold with his love for boats and witty remarks. The typical role of the father being the leader of the family is flipped in Us, giving the mother a powerful title, as well as raw power. But Gabe brings the laughs that Peele, with his background in comedy, couldn’t forget. Their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) are just as active throughout the movie as their parents, rather sitting on the sidelines like most children in the genre (like the useless kids in Jurassic Park or The Shining).
The movie jumps right into horror with a traumatic experience that every parent fears, in a setting that’ll make you wish you had a summer home in California (that is, until your doppelgangers show up to kill you). Also, Peele does a fantastic job of leaving bread crumbs throughout the movie to make sure you are paying attention.
Peele’s first movie, Get Out, focused on racial differences, but Us’s focus is broader. It explores PTSD, adversity, parent/child trust, and the wealth gap. Post-traumatic stress occurs when a person returns to the location of the event, which happens to Addie almost immediately. The idea of adversity lies within the characters and relies heavily on fight or flight mentality. Trust is the foundation of any relationship between parents and their children, which is a two-way street where the parents have to trust their children. For the wealth gap, Us is straight to the point regarding purchases of luxury and protection that are white and black.
After being the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, Jordan Peele did not hesitate to come back with a freakish thriller that doesn’t forget to make you laugh. Even though the bar was high for Peele, he definitely exceeded it again. On its opening weekend (March 22nd) it earned $71 million and so far is sitting on $174.1 million worldwide. With Us’s success, it is clear that Peele has mastered cinematography with interesting narratives and eerie tones. I’ll be looking forward to his next film.
Rating: 5/5 stars