Movie Review | Get Out
Movie Summary: A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point. (IMDb)
The main reason that I like Get Out so much is that it is a masterclass in mounting suspense and tension, constantly ratcheting situations up to a knife-edge. Most of the time, these are perfectly ‘normal’, if awkward, situations like meeting a girlfriend’s family, but every single shot is just that little bit off to let you know there’s more going on than you can see.
Right from the start, from Chris and Rose’s encounter with an innocent encounter with a cop that plays up the very real racial tensions between law enforcement and young black men in America, almost everything you see is that little bit unsettling and, if there is a ‘bad’ way for a situation to be read, that is the one that the film will happily tell you is the truth.
Another reason Get Out is so great is that the ostensible comic relief character of Rod is the only one who seems to get what’s going on. At first, it’s played very much for laughs, with Rod joking about a black guy meeting his white girlfriend’s family, and while still humorous later on in the film, it’s only because of his exaggerated belief of what’s going on that stops him becoming too serious.
Then there’s Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage, who I first saw as Josh Lyman in The West Wing, and grew to love as one of TV’s best characters. Since then, thanks to roles in Cabin in the Woods, the Agent Carter one-shot, and now Get Out, he really seems to be carving out a niche as an incredible creepy actor.
Playing his daughter, Allison Williams is amazing as Rose Armitage. She’s the perfect sweet girlfriend from the very start, including sticking up for Chris with the cop and being constantly embarrassed by her parents’ behaviour. All of which makes her hidden depths, accompanied by a simple change in hairstyle and wardrobe that reveals a lot about her true character, all the more surprising.
By this point, it might seem a little odd that the leading man has gone unmentioned so far, yeah? Could seem a little strange and even reflective of the Armitage family’s attitude towards his character? Well, it’s not. I’m simply saving Chris for last because I want to talk more about Daniel Kaluuya’s performance more than any other.
Whether you agree with Samuel L Jackson or not that the role should have gone to an African-American actor rather than a Brit, it can’t be denied that this is 100% his film and he absolutely nails it. Every slight change in expression down to the body language is perfect for every situation.
Seriously, his performance is so good that it had me wondering if he’s actually been through a similar social situation himself (you know, without the horror film parts) until my dumb idiot self realised that, even as a ‘Black Brit’ rather than an African-American, he will almost certainly have been through those kind of situations from childhood onward.
To put it another way, you couldn’t just switch the racial make-up of the film’s cast. Race is inherent to the story being told, and Kaluuya’s performance as Chris captures that feeling of being an outsider perfectly. The director and writer, Jordan Peele, has admitted that the role of Chris is a normal guy that happens to be caught up in a horror movie and that sums it up perfectly.
There are plenty of odd little occurrences before the grand reveal of the Armitage family secret, but Chris just brushes it off as white people being unsure how to act around a black guy and this acceptance of strange treatment ultimately ends up leading him into mortal danger.
Hmm, a non-white person having to accept being treated differently because they want to avoid trouble and awkwardness, only to find that acceptance of being treated as the ‘other’ leads them into even greater danger – is there any more relevant a message in Western film-making at the moment?
Get Out has been out for over a year now and is still as amazing now as it was the first time I saw it back at the start of 2017. Jordan Peele, Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams all combine perfectly to produce one of the best genre-crossing thrillers of recent years.