Us ★★★★½

Gave this a second viewing last night before coming home, and now I've finally got time to write some thoughts about it. The second viewing was very satisfying, allowing me to look for more clues and references that I'd suspected, or considered in hindsight, and gave me more positive feelings about things that I was a little down on at first. While I loved Get Out as well, I walked out of this a lot more excited to talk about it. Get Out was sort of elegant in the way that it was very clear; both in what was happening, and what it was about. Us is a great deal more ambitious and layered, and I've found a lot more interpretation.

The film looks gorgeous, carefully playing with shadows and angles to create further mystery and tension. The lighting is gorgeous, especially in the often revisited carnival sequence. Michael Gioulakis continues to prove he's one of the best people to have behind the camera today. Michael Abels returns as composer from Get Out with what I think is an even better score, filled with overpowering choirs, rhythmic drumming, shrill strings, and more. The licensed music is also wonderfully curated, creating both eerie and humorous moments in the film, with the most notable being the remixed "I Got 5 On It", which I was happy to hear used prominently throughout. The editing is also pretty sharp, barring one or two moments where scenes felt a little curt. The ballet fight scene excuses any and all issues I had really though, it's simply gorgeous and an absolute highlight of the film.

Performances across the board are fantastic. Nyong'o is of course the star, with her dual role being the most profound and powerful, but I'm genuinely impressed with everyone. Having the entire cast play two versions of themselves is no easy feat, and each of them bring great personality to those highly physical performances. The child actors are really impressively creepy, especially young Evan Alex. Tim Heidecker gives an enjoyable humorous, but menacing performance as well, and I think that Elisabeth Moss deserves praise for her immensely expressive performance as well. Kudos all around.

There is a ton to unpack thematically in the film (as well as a metric ton of references to genre films), which is fantastic, but I don't like to get into spoilers so we'll just say that and leave it as it is. I do think that Us has a far larger, and more inclusive lens than Get Out though, which was clearly very pointed (and not a bad thing). If there is anything I really want to say about this as a whole, it's that many of the negative (or at least less positive reviews) I've seen are focused on the "how" and not the "why". There is a lot of exposition in a couple scenes (which are minor detractors for me), but if you're focusing on the literal, you're simply missing the whole point. Instead of asking yourself "how this is happening", ask yourself "why is it happening"?

Ask yourself what it means to be Us.

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