“Us” (2019)/Dir. By Jordan Peele (Minor spoilers ahead)
Jordan Peele graduated from the social satire/dark comedy grounds of “Get Out” and straight into a deeper far more intense thriller about…well, “us”. I’ve read tons of reviews complaining about the “ obvious plot twist” and how Peele became the new Shyamalan. Peele is closer to Hitchcock, Kubrick and Carpenter than he is to Shyamalan The way I see it: the fact that the plot twist is obvious is completely irrelevant. In fact, the plot twist is a minor thing when you consider the endless interpretations this movie has.
I’m no genius, but for “Us” stuck with me long after the credits rolled. It is brilliant in that sense. So here’s my take on the story (SPOILERS!): The movie is about the haves and have nots- the developed world and our constant yearn for more (as displayed by Winston Duke’s Gabe, and the Tylers) and how we are not happy with what we have, ignoring all the others, the people “underground” who have less. The movie is also about the multiple sides of our personalities, the “shadows” if you will. How the superficial/visible side of ourselves roams free “above ground”, there’s another side we surpress or don’t show.
Both messages are symbolically unified by one single event: Hands Across America. When I first heard about “Hands Across America”, about 5 years ago, I couldn’t ignore how a noble purpose was actually shallow. The event raised $34m, yet only $15m were distributed to those in need (that’s less than half of the funds raised). “Hands Across America” symbolizes the shallow and vague attempts the haves engage in to show that they care without actually delivering any change in most of the cases. It is a multiple stab at both Boomers and Millennials. (Spoiler over)
The symbology, topics and complexity are just the tip of the iceberg. Lupita Nyongo’s excellent acting is one the highlights of the movie. The others: well the references to “The Shining”, the critique of “historical revisionism” and the loads of Easter Eggs deployed throughout the movie (I’ll never listen to “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys the same way again.)