‘Us’ Is Director Jordan Peele’s Biggest, Weirdest, Most Totally Bonkers Project Yet – And His Best

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‘Us’ Is Director Jordan Peele’s Biggest, Weirdest, Most Totally Bonkers Project Yet – And His Best

Sebastian Hunt, The Forum's Head Writer Of Film & TV

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★★★★★

Wow. Just… wow.

It hasn’t even been an hour since I experienced Us, comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort, and I’m still at an utter loss for words. And yes, “experienced” is the right word. Not “watched”, not “viewed”, not even “seen”. Experienced.

Us isn’t so much a film as it is an art gallery brought to life. A product so visually and narratively peculiar that it’s just as much an assail on the senses as it is a feast.

Peele at this point has such a uniquely profound voice within Hollywood that many are lauding him as a modern-day Hitchcock – which, if you ask me, is a comparison that doesn’t do him complete justice.

Hitchcock and Peele, aside from some obvious similarities, are like night and day in their complexities and overall sense of style. Hitchcock sought to scare you – be it via creeping and sudden music beats, disturbing aesthetics, twisted characters, etc.

But Peele? Peele wants to break you. This, as well as his debut feature Get Out, served not only to scare but deconstruct your psyche, rewiring it with the thematic ideas and messages he’s trying to drive home.

If one were to compare Peele to any director, the best match would be Stanley Kubrick. Both men are highly unique, visually gifted auteurs whose films carry a set of distinguished themes that are so cutting and unremorseful in their assaults on typical human perception that they often evoke anger and confusion from mass audiences.

And if Peele is Kubrick, Us is no doubt 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not out of narrative similarity, but from overall intracecy and nuance, as well as what I assume the overall public reception will be.

Like 2001, Us is a film that critics will be arguing over the ‘true meaning’ of for decades to come, the irony being that both films are constructed in such a way that there isn’t one, clear-cut ‘right’ interpretation. Attempting to find a definitive meaning is a fool’s errand; there is no one right answer.

Us is a film so good that it makes you want to become a filmmaker but so utterly bonkers that it starves you off the industry altogether out of concern for the mental health of the guys who make these things. It’s a window into the Lovecraftian monster that is Jordan Peele’s imagination; a two-hour trip through that terrifying tunnel in the original Willy Wonka.

Trying to put Us into a simple word or sentence description like I do for most films is a futile exercise. It’s just impossible.

And it appears that I’ve been in such awe of Jordan Peele’s craftsmanship that I failed to even mention the cast. This is a real short-sight on my part – they’re all fantastic. Lupita Nyong’o is particularly brilliant, playing both herself and her evil doppelgänger with meticulous grace.

Which brings me to the plot, another one of the film’s attributes that I’ve completely ignored until now. At the forefront, the film presents a pretty basic yet ingenious twist on the home invasion trope: the people doing the invading are in fact duplicates of the film’s central family.

But, as I’m sure you inferred by now, it’s not that simple. Nothing in Us is. It’s a visually dynamic, narrative roller-coaster bolstered by incredible performances and a chilling score.

In the end, the only thing that saddens me about Us is the lack of awards attention I know it will receive. Yes, Get Out (Jordan Peele’s debut feature) was an awards darling, but Us is just so much weirder. I would also argue that it’s an overall more ambitious and poignant project, but I appear to be in the minority with that assessment.

This brings me to my final praise of Us: I liked it better than Get Out. Get Out will likely remain the larger phenomenon due to its more accessible and socially relevant message, but as a film, I would argue that Us is overall a superior beast.

Seeing Us once isn’t enough. This year alone, I can’t imagine seeing it any less than two, maybe even three times. Us is the work of an artist. A masterpiece for the ages. So good that despite being only three months into 2019, I honestly can’t imagine a film exceeding it in quality this year.

See Us. Make this a hit, a box-office monster. It’s a Nobel Prize-worthy achievement that I can’t imagine Peele ever topping. Or maybe he will – because he’s a creative, almost Shakespearean maestro that will one day be remembered as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

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