“Us” is a film that takes awhile to digest after viewing.
“Us” is a film that takes awhile to digest after viewing. Thankfully, we had Jordan Peele, Lupita Nyong’o and Wilson Duke to help us keep all down.
WARNING SPOILER ALERT
Lupita Nyong’o is thoroughly frightening in her lead role as Adelaide while Winston Duke is charming and comedically dark in his role as Gabe Wilson, husband to Adelaide. The brutal, monstrous Abraham is his “Tethered”, a brute of a man and doppelgänger who is consumed with eliminating him.
Shahidi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex were delightful as the resourceful Wilson children, and equal parts eerie and sad in their portrayals of the animalistic and savage Umbrae and the pyromaniacal Pluto, respectably. But the star of the show was most certainly Lupita Nyong’o. Her portrayal of Red is the stuff of nightmares.
If not for one traumatic incident, one bad break, one left turn instead of a right, things could end drastically for any of us. Luckily for us all, most of our darker tendencies are trapped deep within the subconscious mind. In this film, the villains are the Tethered, and are literally the worst of ourselves brought to life.
If not for a few different circumstances here or there, any of us could have become a version unrecognizable and reprehensible to the “real” you. But are you who you really think you are? And what if those vestiges were not dead, but alive instead of being buried in our subconscious minds.
Out in the real world living a torturous life in grisly mimicry of the life you live. What you call humdrum is an opulence compared to theirs, once spent tucked away. Jealous, savage and insane, their burning wish is to reveal themselves, and to kill you!
Taking place in 1986, there were many visual and audible cues to the era. A Michael Jackson Thriller t-shirt. An amusement park from a classic 80s backdrop used as a central plot device. Jordan Peele purposeful yet largely subtle placement of memorabilia and music from the 80s was just enough to remind us of the era. Too much would have made the movie feel like it was trying to make us remember, too little would have left those of us who were alive at the time wanting more.
Earlier this week, The Shadow League got to ask a few questions of the director and cast of “Us”, which is currently getting rave reviews.
Here’s what director Jordan Peele had to say about the importance of each scene and whether he had to cut anything that he wishes he didn’t have to.
“I get to make the final say, so obviously everything in the movie is there for a reason. There’s a scene that was a tone setting scene. But it really didn’t form the rock. It had great music and a great vibe. I needed to get to it,” said Peele.
The Shadow League: Is it difficult wear the hat of writer and director? Why is being both so important?
Jordan Peele: “It’s actually easier to be a writer and director because you know the project so well. That’s what a director’s job is. It’s not just leading a ship of talented people, but you also have to be the expert on the script and why it is how it is.”
The actors that played the Winston family were so visceral because of the physical attributes bestowed upon them. Here Lupita gives us the scope on how she prepared for her tole.
Lupita Nyong’o: “I had a stunt coordinator that I worked with. I also had a physical trainer; I I also took ballet classes. There was a lot of physical exertion that went into this film and a lot of stylistic approaches that were needed. It was cool to come back and do the ballet to expresses the physicality of these two characters.”
TSL: What do you hope viewers get from the film?
Lupita: “I hope you’re confronted by yourself.”
Winston Duke, a Yale graduate, is demonstrably introspective and wise when answering questions about duality that permeate the film.
Winston Duke: “I hope movie goers start to really wonder about their role within cultures of power. Who do you render speechless? Who do you render invisible people are invisible, who bears the burden of your privilege?”
TSL: This is a black masterpiece and it seems like back-to-back brilliant works for Jordan Peele. What does that say to you?
Winston Duke: “I think there’s a lot of diversity, but we want to have a conversation about nuance and ownership. Jordan Peele owns this. Jordan Peele wrote and directed. He has a lot of other people of color in creative roles behind the scenes. He’s given us the ability to tell more nuanced stories. Stories that we can see ourselves in. Jordan Peele has given us the ability to tell more nuanced stories. Stories within the spectrum of black and white.”
TSL: What were your first thoughts when reading this script. They had to be wild.
Winston Duke: “Jordan Peele approached me and said he had something in mind for me. And I needed to read the script and tell him how I feel. I read it at sat with it for about an hour just thinking about it. I had to be a part of that conversation.”
TSL: Any final words on the dualism that exists through this film?
Winston Duke: “Even within the concept of dualism and representation among the characters, Gabe Wilson is the product of an environment, and so is Abraham. Two sides of the same coin. They’re not good versions or bad versions, just products of an environment with different social and political impositions and you see that.”
“Us” opened nationwide on March 21 and is expected to bring in $100 million in its opening week. Now that’s black power made real.