Jordan Peele has created an obsession for me with his sophomore feature Us which stars Black Panther costars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as parents trying to protect their children when demented Doppelgängers appear to terrorize their family. Nyong’o, Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave, finally has a gruesome character to tear into with Adelaide, mother of two triggered by childhood stress when the family returns to the beachtown where she experienced trauma as a child, and as Red the raspy voiced double brought her own more family to raise some of their own traumatic experiences. The dead eyes in Red or the endlessly terrified yet protective Adelaide stole the show on first viewing, but every ounce of this film is brilliant.
Winston Duke nails the fitting and hilarious comedy from Peele without seeming forced or improper; sometimes being attacked by your clone is an oddly funny experience (like WTF, right?). Elisabeth Moss slips into both sides of her character, a batshit marianette as the double and a real monster who says, “it’s vodka-o’clock,” in her real world self. Her silent laugh was stunning. Peele unravels such a packaged portrait of selfhood and position that it will need multiple rewatchings to fully develop an opinion. The climactic fight scene is damn near performance art; another horror dance scene pairing wonderfully with Suspiria, Climax, and Isabelle Huppert’s little jig in Greta. Movements so precise on one end and chaos wild and urgent from the other, cut together splendidly with a childhood spent dancing, could spell out a childhood’s worth of pain. Composer Michael Abels better be getting some royalties from his dark, tense score as I’ve had “Pas De Deux” on repeat; those string competitions spread into bombast spells Tchaikovsky excess and I live for it (those tubas!).
We’ll be rewatching sometime next week, so if you wanna suggest a date to join, we would love the company. I gotta give Shane nightmares again, and just handing him scissors isn’t working anymore.