Last night I saw Jordan Peele’s film Get Out. I am happy to report that it is by far the best American fiction film I have seen in a very long time.
Recently I have gotten in the habit of making excuses for American films. These days they feel like smudged paintings. Even when you can still make out the beauty and integrity of the original intention, the final product has been so distorted by glop and goo and nonsense that the end result is usually seriously compromised, if not downright ugly.
The problem, I believe, is that large budgets lead to many hands on the final product. And a lot of those hands belong not to the film’s actual creative talent, but to the people who hold the purse strings. Those people are generally focused on their own misguided idea of a “bottom line” — target demographics, tie-ins, called-in favors, or some stupid formula they once read in a book about how to write screenplays.
But Jordan Peele had the good fortune to work with a production company that left him alone, as long has he kept his production budget under $5 Million (which he did). And the result, to my eye, is a masterpiece. I am not at all surprised that when it opened it rose straight to number one at the box office.
Get Out is the only American entertainment film I can think of in years that squarely hits its mark on every single level: pacing, visuals, acting, dialog, character development, sly wit, unerring tone. It trusts the intelligence of its audience, while also playing with that audience in a way that never condescends.
Lastly, in addition to its rollicking entertainment value, this is a movie about ideas — important and timely ideas, which are deeply uncomfortable precisely because they are important and timely. And all packaged up in a perfect two hours or so of perfect and fun entertainment.
I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele will do next!