I’m a big fan of Jordan Peele’s creative talent (Key & Peele, Get Out, Keanu, The Last OG) so I critique the movie, “Us”, out of love. Also, I try to stay general in my thoughts, so there shouldn’t be any spoilers below.
This movie is about Us.
Before I saw Us, I wondered if it was going to be an exploration of Americans fighting with themselves. Or maybe a depiction of the “other side”, politically or ideologically, as villains, and how they are really us in the end. I thought that it could even get more specific in allegorically depicting a confrontation between Black American conservatives and liberals. Well, the movie is none of my wacky assumptions, and it’s also possibly all of it.
Us got me thinking a lot.
Us contains familiar scary movie elements: a cabin in the woods, questionable decisions, creepy strangers, jumpy moments, disturbing imagery, and a fascinating exploration of the duality of the American psyche as expressed through Jungian archetypes… wait what? I like thinky scary thrillers like Us, but the storytelling isn’t as satisfying as its cerebral nature. I somewhat enjoyed it, but I left the theatre a bit confused and disappointed.
Writer-director Jordan Peele was probably very intentional with every element of the story, but the successful parts don’t make it as good as I want it to be. There are appealing elements like the government conspiracy references, the reversals of male/female cliches, and setting of weirdo Santa Cruz, California. Some moments and dialogue are comical, and probably shouldn’t be. Other moments seem to exist for the sake of unsettling the audience, and don’t really help the story.
The Brilliance is the Conversation?
Like Get Out, Us is a creepy movie that stays with you for a while. Maybe its brilliance is in the fact that it creates conversation. A lot of art strives for this cultural achievement. My wife and I are still talking about it although she didn’t care for it as much as I did. We agree on the movie’s merits while maintaining different opinions and affirming that our differences can actually build relationship and strengthen our culture. Through discourse we see that we’re humans with wants and needs, dreams and dramas, like anyone else. We may be on different sides, but if we reach across that aisle, joining hands across America, then we can remember that we’re not that different.
The weirdo on “that side” isn’t so foreign. They are the same as… Us. 😉
More Related Thoughts….
Us crams in a lot of interesting visual elements, many of them related to the theme of duality. Characters, shadows, faces, scissors, 11:11 phenomenon, and even Michael Jackson. Some characters give us some chilling mannerisms, including Get Out-ish tearful gazes. And even with all the visuals, is it weird that I wanted more exploitation of movie’s red jumpsuits, golden scissors and leather gloves? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll see red jumpsuits and chanclas during Halloween this year.
Santa Cruz aka “Berkeley Lite”
It’s a nice change of pace to see a movie set in Santa Cruz amongst the surf-ready (dirty) beaches, and famous (dingy) Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I grew up near SC and even worked there a while, so I also like making fun of it 🙂
Government Conspiracy / Secret Society
Is the movie alluding to the Illuminati involvement in American society (haha!) And if you connect Get Out and Us, would it add up to some kind of warning of a coming calamity? (God’s Judgement in the referenced Jeremiah 11:11) There is that owl, right?!?
If Jordan Peele or I disappear, then we’ll know he tried to warn us.
“Two Bodies, One Soul”
Are the bookend images in the movie a reference to a hot topic regarding the current US President? And recent events caused the Shadows of America to come out of the shadows, and they’re uniting across the nation. We are supposed to be one nation, so it’s a bummer when we remember that “those” people are really us.
Republican / Democrat / Conservative / Liberal
I don’t follow the religion of American Politics so my knowledge is somewhat superficial. The only news I get tends to be based in pop headlines provided by Instagram and Google. So if you’ve gotten this far, take this next part with a spoonful of sugar…
I wonder if there are possible references to people stuck in an opposing ideological or political side of America. For example, I’ll pick on two prominent Thought Leaders in American politics: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Candace Owens. Depending on your religious views, you might think either one of those women are brainwashed or crazy to have a certain philosophy. However, when we lay down our weapons, have a conversation, and try to build relationships, we can see through the red, and see they’re just like us. And maybe that’s why the themes of duality work so well on different levels.