American Review: Jordan Peele's horrible project in a self-destructive country

Jordan Peele's We, its title indicates that it is not a film of which we, spectators, can be detached. From the beginning, we have to acknowledge an uncomfortable fact: in the public, we are part of the story.

And it's a film about doubles and doppelgängers, so of course, the title imposes a dual allegorical duty. Peele is an encyclopedia of itinerant pop culture, especially horror and science fiction (he is the organizer and producer of CBS). blurred area restart, which begins April 1). So there is no way to name his get out followed without conscious reference to Their!, the 1954 sci-fi film in which a nest of giant irradiated ants threatens Americans with tunnels under New Mexico, a reward (a voiceover in the end tells us) for the pride of the atomic era.

The title also indicates that this film speaks about us – first person plural, audience and filmmakers – but with an additional specificity: US = United States. While one of the characters is stirring once the film goes into gear, "We are Americans". We is a movie about America.

In the grip of symbols and an invasive apocalyptic dread, We is a great ambitious fable about how a society develops voluntary amnesia, then tears itself apart. Like last year Hereditary and the next The cottageit's horror cosplay as family drama. But unlike these movies, WeThe target is not intimate; it is an entire country that does not want to remember the least tasty moments in history.

It will also work better if you do not try to separate it too often and not to associate a coherent mythology. We is likely to frustrate people who are looking for plot points that can be explained consistently and explicitly mapped directly to the real world. In this way, he feels less cleverly crafted than get outbut also more mature for a new observation, from a new angle; Your mileage may vary. And what people see in the film can say less about the film than about themselves. (It's no coincidence that some of the movie's posters contain images of ink stains that clearly mimic a Rorschach test.)

Evan Alex in us.

Evan Alex in We.
Claudette Barius / Universal Pictures

But no matter who's watching, the movie is richly entertaining and annoying. We is more intuitive than explanatory, more visceral than schematic; it's horrible in a way that catches your bowel when all is over.

We turns a family trip to the beach into a nightmare

Humans seem to find copies of themselves terrifying. Traditionally, seeing one's doppelgger means death is near. In some cultures and at times, the twins were considered so unlucky that one by two is killed after birth.

So it's pretty scary when, at the beginning of the movie, young Adelaide (Madison Curry) – a child visiting an amusement park on a walk on Santa Cruz beach with her parents bickering in 1986 – walks away in a gaming house and, in the hall of mirrors, is confronted by itself. Not a reflection of herself. A copy of herself.

At present, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) is on vacation with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and her two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), in the family home near Santa Cruz . Gabe suggests they go to the beach to meet their friends Josh (Tim Heidecker) and Kitty (Elisabeth Moss), who despise themselves cordially between raising their teenage twin daughters (Cali Sheldon and Noelle Sheldon).

Adelaide seems struck by Gabe's suggestion, but eventually agrees to leave, but with caution. While they are on the beach, Jason walks away, scary Adelaide half. But soon, everything is fine, and the family comes back that night to relax and sleep a little.

The family in us.

Uh oh.
Claudette Barius / Universal Pictures

And then, they see four characters at the end of their driveway, holding hands, motionless. They will not leave. When, all together, they converge on the house, the family discovers with horror that these strangers are not mysterious strangers. These are his doppelgängers, their exact doubles, except twisted, angry and bloody.

We focuses on the broader social context of his horror

This is a worrying premise that continues to grow, challenging what we think we know about the film world. Squeezing on the tropes of the horror of the house invasion, monster movies, supernatural thrillers and disturbing social coolers, We slowly builds the case where our greatest enemies are our shadows, the parts of us that we like to hide.

But We is less attached to the individual psyche, more to the wider cultural and social implications of this idea, and to the way in which it has shaped the way we speak, think, and act on race and class issues in America. The family is hunted by their own doubles because of events long forgotten and that she has not personally triggered. America's efforts to forget this story have led the country to this apocalypse of its own creation.

This metaphor, in my view, escapes the lightness as well obvious very closely. Peele largely succeeds in avoiding potential clumsiness with the skillful director's hand (and punctuation of humor) so evident in get out. The beats of the movie feel deliberate and solid, not heavy. Everything could change at any time. Nobody is safe.

The doubles arrive and they do not play.

The doubles arrive and they do not play.
Claudette Barius / Universal Pictures

Each actor has the particularly difficult task of playing himself as well as his own, twisted double – even children – and their hesitations from fearful to hurt to disturb are the source of most horrors of the film; nothing is more frightening than a demonic smile on a young girl's face. Everyone is uniformly brilliant, but Nyong'o's performance as the narrative and moral center of the film is virtually frightening and heartbreaking, as if she were exchanging her souls between two shots, or even during.

The meticulous and thoughtful adaptation of the cast to their dual role is part of the detail of the rest of the film. Everything we see on the screen seems destined to be noted and taken into account, from the VHS tapes on the set next to a TV set in 1986 (Goonies, C.H.U.D.) logos on children's t-shirts (Jaws, Hands Across America, Michael Jackson's Thriller).

The entertainment venue for young companies in Adelaide is called "Shaman Vision Quest", with a caricature of Native American names, but when the family revisits the beach, decades later, it was changed to " Merlin remains of his racist past. A recurring reference to the 1986 Hands Across America anti-poverty campaign (which raised $ 34 million, but actually distributed only $ 15 million, less than half, to the poor) becomes more and more important as the movie progresses. And an early blow slowly pulls on rabbit cages, stacked on top of each other; a sea of ​​white rabbits is punctuated by a pair of chestnuts and blacks. This is not an accident.

None of this is accidental. In We, everything counts.

We warns that a destruction of biblical proportions is coming, and it has begun inside our own souls

Of all Peele's deliberate choices, the reason for duplication is the most important. This gives impetus to the plot, but it manifests itself in another way. A man stands on the sidewalk in 1986 and today with a cardboard sign on which is written in pencil, "Jeremiah 11:11" – "Therefore, so says the Lord, behold, I inflict upon them a disaster that they can not escape. Although they scream at me, I will not listen to them. "

The meaning of this verse is clearer if you look at it in context, just as the film only makes sense if you know the historically phobic culture of America: we prefer to forget the parts of our story that we are uncomfortable In Jeremiah 11, God speaks to the prophet Jeremiah of the covenant he made with the ancestors of the people of Israel when he took them out of slavery in Egypt. God tells Jeremiah that the nation has "returned to the iniquities of their ancestors".

Later in the passage, Jeremy realizes that people are plotting against him because they do not want to hear this message. The nation has forgotten God and his story and God has decided to give it to destruction.

This is a clear warning for people who have forgotten the history of oppression and bloodshed in their country. What We suggests that if we move towards destruction, the destroyers will not be invaders from outside – from "the other". They will be, well, we.

Clearly, there is no clear splitting theme in the verse itself (although God repeats the same warnings many times, almost word for word, in the chapter). But Peele has a bit of luck with the reference: 11:11 is in itself a double of double. To make sure to get it, he repeats it on a wake up screen just before things start going very badly in the movie. And there are other duplicates throughout the film: the reflections of the window, the twins, the mirror images and, of course, the doppelgängers themselves.

Lupita Nyong'o in us.

Lupita Nyong'o in We.
Claudette Barius / Universal Pictures

The key notion in We is that our shadow, our inverted negatives, are not separate entities from ourselves – we are simply our own aggressors. A nation of people who prefer to erase their misdeeds rather than recognize and correct them, literally becomes a divided home. It will fall.

That's why Peele's reminder to Their!, a 65-year-old product of an era obsessed with the madness of the atomic age and the threat of the cold war abroad, is so important. There are clear parallels – the two films speak of underground tunnels in which human-created dangers hide, which will one day explode and cause our loss. But Their!, from its title, indicates that danger is something other than humans (and in the film, giant ants). Humans have created danger, but it comes from creatures totally different from us.

But in WePeele brings criticism closer to home. The fault of our destruction is not that of foreign agents. Poison hides in our own souls.

We opens in theaters on March 21st.

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