Every once in a very long while, a film comes along that completely defies expectations. Too often, movies are over-hyped. It’s not that the film itself is bad, it’s just that every media outlet, every person with a Twitter account, and every online review keeps telling you it’s going to be the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen in your whole goddamn life.
All of this is not to say that Jordan Peele’s sophomore feature is indeed The Most Incredible Thing I’ve Ever Seen, but I’ve been sitting on this film for a week now, running it beginning to end through my mind repeatedly, trying desperately to remember every tiny piece of the intricate puzzle, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I walked away from a movie feeling just as, if not more, hyped about it as I did when I entered the theatre. No film is flawless and Us is no exception, but what imperfections it contains are relatively minor and do little to detract from the overall narrative.
Supported by exceptional direction, cinematography, and acting, Us is at once a surreal story about a family struggling to survive in an apocalyptic setting and a multi-layered commentary on some of the darker aspects of American society. The beauty of it is that, while there are certain concrete themes, the film’s overall message can be interpreted different ways by different people. That isn’t a sign of too many loose ends or clumsy storytelling. On the contrary, Us achieves what the likes of Lost ultimately failed to accomplish: it answers enough of the questions it asks to make a cohesive narrative, tying up the right plot strings so that the story ends with a sense of closure, while still leaving enough to the imagination to give us something to chew on once the credits roll. Peele wants his audience to think.
Warning: spoilers ahead.