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Byron Shire
August 15, 2022

Cinema Review: Us

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The old bloke a few seats down from me yawned audibly, and I was feeling the same way. Jordan Peele shot to fame among cinephiles with last year’s ‘Get Out’, his debut as director. It has already become something of a cult movie and this, of which he is also writer and producer, bears some resemblance to it in that it deals with identity. But otherwise, the two are like chalk and cheese, with Us being little more than a zombie flick dressed up to look deep and meaningful (for the real deal, check out the Australian Cargo). It starts creepily enough, at a beach fairground in Santa Cruz, 1986. A little girl wanders into a hall of mirrors and comes face to face with her Doppelgänger. Jump forward to the present day, and that little girl is married with a couple of kids of her own. The family has just arrived at their lakeside holiday house, but on the first night a group of people decked out in red overalls are seen standing in the driveway. When the father (Winston Duke) confronts them, he finds that the man opposite, is ‘him’. And that the other three are his wife (Lupita Nyong’o), daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son (Evan Alex). We learn that they represent the neglected ‘shadows’ and they have turned up to wreak violent revenge on those who have flourished in the real world. As an exploration of how the ‘other’ in society might one day rise up, the idea is fair enough, but after the initial weirdness, which is genuinely disturbing, the film is given over to run of the mill killing, stabbing and screaming etc. Why the alternative father can only communicate in grunts is never properly explained, nor is the reason why the boy scampers around on all fours like a chimpanzee. It just gets boring (although it did prompt me to reference Jeremiah 11:11) and the surprise ending is not really a surprise at all, being flagged as soon as the closing scene commences.

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