The internet has been buzzing about Get Out ever since the release of its first trailer last year. Thankfully it lives up to the hype. Never has a mainstream film spoke on issues of race so frankly, it’s cinematically ground-breaking. It stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams as Chris and Rose, an interracial couple. The two plan to visit Rose’s parents for the first time, but as a black man Chris has reservations meeting her white family. During their stay Chris becomes increasingly suspicious of his in-laws odd behaviour and moreover, of the odd behaviour of the other African-Americans in the neighbourhood. He suspects something sinister and when he attempts to leave his eerie surroundings, his in-laws make it clear that escape is not an option.
It’s liberating to see a film discuss race so directly, it’s the film’s one and only topic. Approaching this topic isn’t new to bi-racial director-writer Jordan Peele. He’s best known for his popular sketch show Key & Peele which features sketches on the problems black men encounter, although the core message of these sketches can get buried beneath the many layers of comedy. Like Key & Peele, Get Out is also very funny but so brilliantly frank in its delivery that its message can’t be diluted. The message being: ‘I’m black, you’re white and here are the many ways we’re treated differently because of it’. Peele strips away some superficial layers of humour to provide his audience with the cold hard truth.
In the opening scene, a young black man innocently walks along the road of a suburban white neighbourhood. A car then drives slowly alongside him to keep a watchful eye while the song ‘Run Rabbit Run’ plays in the background. Watching Get Out is like watching the day in the life of a black man as scenes likes these are synonymous with their reality. It draws a parallel with the film Moonlight in regards to its frank portrayal of the lives of black men. Peele doesn’t quite have the technical skilfulness of Barry Jenkins, but for a first time director his work is impressive. Peele’s ability to capture his audience isn’t just exclusive to his stand up shows. Get Out will make its audience laugh together and gasp together, giving them a worthy cinema experience. The film is not as jumpy as the trailers might have you think; it has its tense and eerie moments but not enough to label it a horror film, it fits more into the drama/thriller genre.
The chemistry between Kaluuya and Williams is brilliant and Kaluuya’s performance in particular is exemplary. His American accent is flawless and his performance could have rivalled some of this year’s Academy Award nominees. He doesn’t have many lines but his face is so expressive that he says so much without saying anything at all. Samuel L. Jackson spoke out against Peele’s decision to cast Kaluuya due to Kaluuya being British. He argued that an African-American actor would have better understood the complexities of the role and that not all things are ‘universal’. As a black British person myself, I find Samuel’s comments flippant. Race relations may be slightly better on this side of the Atlantic but they are far from perfect. Just like in America, black British men are often accosted by the police without cause; the only difference here in Britain is that the majority of police officers do not carry guns.
The majority of films that depict racism are set in the Jim Crow era so it’s comforting to watch a film like Get Out which is set in modern times and depicts the racism that is ever present in today’s society. Hopefully it will encourage other filmmakers to create more must-see content like this. It’s a film that speaks for so many black people and will soon be among the list of not just ‘must watch black films’ but ‘must watch films’ in general.