Nope | movie review
More like 'meh'.
Movie summary: The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery. (IMDb)
I loved Get Out, with it being one of my favourite movies of 2017, but wasn’t as fond of Us even though I did still enjoy it somewhat. Unfortunately, Nope continues my downward trend in terms of enjoying Jordan Peele’s movies even if it does contain some good moments – it’s certainly not a bad movie, but neither is it something I’d label as ‘good’ either.
This time, it’s the performances that really undercut my enjoyment, and I don’t want to blame the actors as they can only really do as directed, with my main complaint being that the characters may well be behaving in a thematically appropriate way, but that didn’t make them any more interesting or engaging for me as a viewer.
Let’s take Daniel Kaluuya’s character of OJ for starters. Now, I think Kaluuya is a great actor and is normally great to watch perform, but his character doesn’t speak all that much and barely emotes, hardly changing from scene to scene regardless of the nature of that scene. OJ feels very much like a movie character: someone who couldn’t exist in real life, but solely to serve this specific role in this story.
I get that OJ is used to restraining himself as he works with animals and wouldn’t want to spook them with any sudden or wild movements or noises, and he has to watch someone close to him die at the very start of the movie, which would be traumatic for anyone. The problem I had is that his behaviour doesn’t evolve across the movie, which made me lose all interest in OJ as a character.
Then we get Keke Palmer as OJ’s sister, Emerald, who is the yang to his yin, being very loud and very emotive – but she too barely evolves over the course of the movie, quickly moving from an entertaining contrast to OJ and into irritating pretty quickly, staying firmly in that category for the remainder of the story.
The supporting cast for Nope don’t fare that much better either, with everyone wanting to get involved in what’s going on so they can have their ‘moment’ and maybe become rich, famous or both. Again, completely fitting thematically - with the constant depiction of humans taking advantage of animals for their own benefit – but not really enjoyable for me to watch.
Ultimately, there was just no character in this film that I could really latch on to and connect with, meaning that the most enjoyable parts of the movie were when the characters were silent and trying to watch or listen out for something, as that meant I could do the same and finally feel some kind of immersion in the world Peele had created.
Not to be completely negative in this review, but part of what makes those moments work so well is that Nope is a genuinely gorgeous movie with impeccable sound design. If you don’t connect with the characters either, at least you can still appreciate the movie as an incredible audio-visual experience and I would honestly recommend watching it at least once for that reason alone.
Nope isn’t a bad film but I certainly wouldn’t call it good either. I’m glad I’ve seen it for how great it looks and the incredible sound design, but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again because I really didn't care about or for any of the characters, which is a pretty big issue when it comes to a movie. That said, I’m still definitely going to watch whatever Jordan Peele’s next movie is and I just hope I enjoy it more than this.