Us

Us ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
Jeremiah 11:11

a powerful statement on the dangers of the single narrative, self-autonomy and performative activism. Us tells the story of a family and their uncanny valley-esque followers—framed in what seems like a contextualized story in the hands of our seemingly reliable narrator only to be subverted by the end. 

at the start of Us, the dynamic is clear, with the family being the obvious good and the shadows being the obvious bad. leading up to the climax, we see the tethered pairs growing more alike through the course of the movie. now let's talk about said climax. the entire sequence of red and adelaide make for a brilliant catharsis —two sides of the same coin performing a waltz of shifting power. with the twist being foreshadowed through "adelaide"'s gradual snarling and brutality, the reveal packs a punch comparable to the change of someone who you once knew—whether it be yourself or the ones you love. the question arises: how can we be sure we're not turning into our own demise? from the meeting, we get the sense that something's wrong in adelaide's demeanor; an unsettling gut feeling is present but we choose to ignore it, hence the feeling of shame we feel at the revelation

with that, Peele leans in and whispers his point: the danger of the unreliable narrator. we must constantly question who and what we've been told, no matter how seemingly real it is, or how much we want to believe it's real. the shared knowledge between "adelaide" and her son see at the last scenes parallel the connection that was established through the first act of foreshadowing (establishment of red's speaking ability) — we know. the layers of information — or lack thereof — make for a commentary, again, on how we consume information, not just from our loved ones, but from our overall environment. 

moving on, the theme of self autonomy is wonderfully explored—shifting from self-sabotage and shared trauma to one of oppression. oppression first rears its head at the adelaide/red climactic interaction — we know our movements, we know ourselves, yet we still choose to take each other down. "what could have been if you took me with you," laments red, further tying that knot. however, the concept expands (as the act of adelaide lying is said) to inter-communal oppression, being a broad vessel to deliver criticism on colorism, sexism, and other isms each identity-based community faces. 

lastly, Peele exceptionally calls out the toxicity of performative activism — seen through his portrayal of "solidarity". you'd think in a modern lens, identity-driven solidarity would bring us together for change, but what often happens is it brings us together to silence other group, as represented by the banding together of the red shadows. on top of that, the opening commercial of hands across america absolutely drill down the message. Peele shakes the viewers, yelling at us to understand that performative activism (whether it be by corporations pandering, people in power to gain empathy points, and so on) brings more harm than good at the end of the day. if keeping up a ""progressive"" facade (with underlying pragmatism, centrism, and indifference through anti-radicalism) is more important than actually acting, who's to say we aren't the shadows? alternatively, who's to say we're CREATING them? 

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