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Film Review: Get Out

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Jordan Peele's directorial debut combines a witty blend of classic genre tropes, with a hearty dose of perpetually potent social commentary, to devastating effect.

While first-time director Jordan Peele's roots may lie firmly in the world of cult comedy, by the time the opening credits of his debut feature Get Out are rolling, it's already abundantly clear that, at its core, this is a distinct step away from that field. The result of this genre shift is a film propelled by a gregariously satirical premise in the style of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner meets The Stepford Wives that, once grounded, becomes an intensely thrilling and masterfully suspenseful exploration of the currently inherent flaws that signify and further expose the distance at which American society stands from becoming truly post-racial.

Following Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American photographer, and Rose (Allison Williams), his white nurse girlfriend, the film depicts the couple's timely trip, away from the city, to stay with her purportedly liberal parents in their seemingly homely estate in the affluent suburbs, for the first time. Chris is naturally on the apprehensive side, as any man would be in his situation, though even more so when he finds out that Rose hasn't yet told them of his skin colour. 

Despite his obviously well-reasoned trepidation, upon their eventual arrival, it appears that there was nothing to fear. Rose's parents are incredibly welcoming almost to the point of overkill, in particularly her father Dean (Bradley Whitford). There is this arcane aura of enthusiasm about him, which first comes to the fore as they somewhat awkwardly exchange the usual introductory pleasantries, and is subsequently mirrored by almost all whom Chris meets during the visit.

The main exceptions being the family's eerily benevolent housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel), and their groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson), who's overly acquiescent demeanour proves deeply unsettling to Chris. But they are nothing compared to the convoy of guests with whom he has no choice but to mingle, during Dean and Missys' (Catherine Keener) annual garden party. It is at this point in the film, that Peele kicks his unwaveringly potent social commentary up a notch, from mindfully subtle to downright in-your-face.

While many of the party's attendees make somewhat misguided yet well-meaning attempts to identify with Chris, others appear to almost view him in the same way one might a fashion accessory, and it's the way in which Peele's writing portrays these appreciably alienating miscommunications of intention, that makes the middle ground of the film so compelling cogent and uncomfortably authentic. 

Our reservations towards such displeasures are at least partly quelled by the comedic relief of Chris' best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent who effectively acts as an on-screen embodiment of we, the audience. Though in some cases his boisterousness may edge a little too far over the top, his presence is a wholly enriching one, that brings a due measure of hilarity to Get Out's encapsulating experience. 

Ultimately, Get Out is an enviable triumph, both aesthetically and figuratively. The intrinsically changeable look, utilised by cinematographer Toby Oliver, sets it apart from the formulaic glaze of the mainstream, as its own personably unique entity. In tandem, Peele's adept use of multifaceted foreshadowing litters the entire narrative with a treasure trove of ingenious dialogue plants, circumstantially leading to the film's exquisitely executed twist, thus making repeat viewings a virtual no-brainer. An adeptly calculated risk was taken with this film, and it's more than safe to say, it has paid off handsomely.

Get Out is released in UK cinemas this Friday.

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