Film Review: Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out (USA, 2017) is a triumph

Fresh off the writing table of comedy sketch duo Key & Peele, Jordan Peele tackles his solo directing/writing debut in this racially-fueled thriller determined to leave you with a bad taste in the mouth in the most wonderful of ways.

Peele is without a doubt best known for his comedy, so his new project was sure to catch attention. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is off to meet the parents of his new girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), at their family estate. While she assures him that his African American ethnicity would not be an issue with her Caucasian parents, upon meeting them (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener), mysteries begin to ensnare Chris in an uncomfortable and socially-illuminating journey.

Not one to shy away from race, Peele should be commended on his often seamless commentary on subtle racism that lies engrained throughout all sectors of society, manifesting in many different ways. Chris is aware of these stereotypes and stigmas, and while many characters around him frame these stereotypes as positives, Peele’s delicate directing and writing combination draws audiences in on Chris’ experience as a non-Anglo man still, even in the 21st Century, being classified and placed in a box. While some of the commentary is somewhat on the nose, it is refreshing and enlightening to have this perspective brought to the foreground and intertwined with the plot without it seeming forced down the throat. The ending itself is so refined and yet leaves a sickening feeling in the audience’s stomach as they piece together what it all means for Chris.

Amidst this commentary, there is a thriller element about the film that is certainly effective, but there are some silly, almost sci-fi elements that undermine the reality of the piece. However, they do not serve to trivialize the films through line driven by such strong characters. Peele does not shrug at comedy either, allowing breaks between the suspense to allow the audience time to breathe with clever quips often at the hand of Rod (Lil Rel Howery) who has a remarkable Michael Pena-esque comedic delivery about him that is surprisingly unobnoxious and relieving to watch.

Howery supports an all-round stellar cast. Kaluuya has been creeping into the radar since his performance in Black Mirror some years ago, but his work in Get Out is nothing but mesmerizing, with such connection to the core of this character, what he represents to audiences and Peele, while also remaining as present as ever in each scene thus tantalizing audiences and gripping them in his truthful, almost heartbreaking voyage. One can only hope this man will be on the up and up, with his next performance set to be in the upcoming Black Panther movie, helmed by Ryan Coogler. Williams, Whitford and Keener are wonderful, as are all members of this near-faultless cast that served the director’s vision with such respect and grace, even if the idea did get weird at times.

The major disappointments lay in a few misplaced lines that did not sit well with scenes, unconvincing and fantastical plot elements that were a little cliché and predictable at times, and a soundtrack that started off so strongly with Donald Glover’s new track to hint at a refreshing new take on music of the genre, before descending into archetypal thriller strings that served their purpose but were not as rewarding as initially hoped.

In the end, Peele’s debut is a triumph. It’s a thinker and an armchair-grabber at the same time, with a cast and crew passionate to tell a story with sincerity that will hopefully create space for understanding.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Get Out is in cinemas May 4.