Jordan Peele does so much right in his latest film, Us. From a filmmaking standpoint, he creates incredible visual messages, there is an amazing score to heighten the tense, creepy, and uncomfortable feeling, and the acting is top notch. From a storytelling standpoint, he creates an interesting plot with likeable characters, a science fiction aspect, and intense twists and turns that keep you interested the entire way through. From a thematic standpoint, he creates a largely metaphorical film that covers politics, social issues, religion, and personal issues. And he does all of it so well.
Peele layers so much thought, intention, and precision into every single shot in this film. He fills it with meaning, interesting visuals, and Easter eggs, so that you have to be paying close attention at all times. For a film about doppelgangers and doubles, he plays with reflections and symmetry constantly. And these moments aren’t just random, because he can. They are filled with meaning and purpose, and they couple perfectly with the score.
For a while now, I’ve said that the score to Interstellar fits that movie better than any other score fits a movie. Not that it is the best film score ever – just that it is perfect for what is being portrayed on screen. After seeing Us, I have to say that it is a close second. As soon as the doppelgangers are revealed, the music elevates what is happening on screen by so much. There are stringed instruments creating staccato notes that are completely haunting and chill you to your spine. But this wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t for the incredible acting that we are seeing.
Lupita Nyong’o plays two characters and is exceptional as both of them. Her portrayal of Red alone is Oscar worthy, but the fact that she brought her double to life as well just puts her at the front of the pack this early on. And the rest of the cast are amazing as well, including the kids. Everyone is at the top of their game.
But the way that Peele interweaves story and metaphor is evidence of an expert filmmaker. If you wanted to watch this through a completely metaphorical lens to just try and glean as much meaning from it as you could, that would work. And if you wanted to simply watch a movie with a gripping story, with great horror and comedic moments, that would work as well. What makes it most impressive, though, is that you can view this movie both literally and metaphorically and you can get that much more from it.
Us is an amazing blend of lots of different things. It doesn’t go too far into any one of them and it gives just enough of each of them. If anything, this is a movie that will be discussed for years to come. Love it, hate it, or think it was just okay, there is so much within it, that it rewards coming back in discussion over and over again.