Film Review: Get Out
** SPOILER ALERT **
This weekend I finally went and saw the film Get Out.
I have been meaning to see it since it first got released. Late I know, but with all the fuss made about its story-line (especially from white liberals) I had to go see it while it was still at the cinema.
So, do I think its worth all the hype?
Well yeah kind of! Though I'm still trying to wrap my head around the ending. As I'm not sure if I was happy with the way the story-line concludes. Though despite this, I thought the film was bold, daring and a great new way to approach the subject of race through film. Get Out created an awesome build up of suspense, effectively used light comedic relief (in Chris' black TSA friend), and its story-line was a fun new twist to the old "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" cinematic narrative.
For me, Get Out was reminiscent of a Steven King adaptation but instead with the plot centering around race - I'm thinking Sleepwalkers, sans the shape-shifters and replacing the virgin girls with black people. Though before we guess that the girlfriend is in on her families weird plans, there are several exchanges between she and Chris that were not only relatable (whether between interracial friends or couples), but also culturally and socially revealing.
Such as the intimate exchange early into the film between Chris and his girlfriend Rose; prior to their visit to meet her parents he asks if her folks know that he's black, to which her reply surmounts to a no, her parents aren't racist so why the need to bring race up. What was interesting about this exchange is how self absorbed Rose's rationale was, since it in no way factors in the possible distress this could cause Chris, but instead centers around the resistance to acknowledge or accept the (possible) racial biases held by her family. Though ironically, all it takes is one evening with her parents for her to notice how ignorant and racially offensive they can be. Additionally, this showed how aware (or sensitive) of race she became in his presence.
I feel this showed how differently we read, feel and experience racism. As obvious as I realise that statement may seem, what is meant is that cross racial understanding is often not built on empathic ties, but the mitigating of ones personal feelings. This was exemplified in both the scene where Chris realises someone is purposely unplugging his mobile phone from the charger and when he and Rose walk away from the party to spend some alone time, after Chris freaks out over events occurring at the party. In both of these instances, Rose's initial reaction is hostile and resistant to Chris discomfort, though later overcomes this is to acknowledge and accept his feelings.
This is idea of "mitigating ones personal feelings" can be read another way, since the scene when Chris and Rose's family first meet and have dinner, shows him having to "take on the chin" all the racially offensive things directed at him in order to spare the families feelings. It would seem that because of these scenes where Chris is having to placate the racial hostility he experiences, makes the violent, bloody and gory massacre of Rose and her family come as a satisfying relief to you, asboth the cinema audience, and on Chris' behalf as spectator (since the camera angles in these scene regularly switch between Chris' and onlookers perspectives).
My contention with the film's ending is that the white people are attempting (successfully) to inhabit the black body. What I understood of the plot line was that the white mind/psyche/consciousness was being implanted into the body of young black people to not only extend the (white) persons life, but also because it offered certain coveted features, such as being cool, physical strength and/or sexual prowess. While the fetishisation of blackness is more then relatable, as was the story-line of Chris being inconspicuously inspected by party guests before being silently auctioned off (a blatant reference to the slave auctions), what I'm resistant to accept is that the white folks would actually want to inhibit a black body, which would mean accepting the good with the bad, I.E. racist social stigma!
For me, the goal should/would have been better had it been to absorb or consume the soul or essence of blackness, in order to achieve the ultimate white experience. While I have no idea how this could be conveyed cinematically, as explained, the story-line to me seems flawed, since it would be wholly contradictory that white folks would deem the black body as the answer to extend their life when they (historically) have made black life so precarious!