Nope – Review

Rating: 15
Featuring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott
Written and Directed by Jordan Peele
Length: 131mins

Richard Burton and Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Wes Anderson and Bill Murray. There are a great number of classic director/actor combinations which have developed throughout the years, and the dynamic duo of Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya seems to be creeping up amongst them. The intelligent and thoughtful gaze of Kaluuya compliments the eerie and unpredictable nature of Peele’s stories, in a manner which reflects the audience’s own ideas, but perhaps in an even calmer way. The horror and thrill of Peele’s recent – and already impressive – back catalogue (Get Out, Us, Nope), may contain moments to make an audience leap from their seats, but would only get a slight widening of the eyes from his leading man. Although Kaluuya remains absent within 2019’s ‘Us’, the madness of ‘Get Out’ and this years’ ‘Nope’, can be explored in even more tender detail thanks to the brilliance of this director-performer combination.

Jordan Peele has absolutely reached a stage now where he can truly go in any direction he likes. His 2017 breakthrough onto the filmmaking scene, ‘Get Out’, showcased talents which were reinforced within the sophomore release, ‘Us’. For this third film, maintaining originality whilst also wanting to repeat the success of his previous work may have been a difficult task, but ‘Nope’ delivers one of the most exciting and original thrillers I’ve seen in recent years. Plotlines, ideas, and characters all lead the story into fascinating avenues that are unlikely for any audiences to hypothesise about before taking their seat. Although the motivation behind some actions, or the plotlines of some characters, can at times seem slightly erratic or untidily rushed, the film mostly delivers one exciting turn after another, resulting in perhaps the strongest film from Peele since ‘Get Out’. 

As for the story of ‘Nope’, I can’t recommend enough going in with as little knowledge as possible. Even those with a vague understanding of the concept or plot line will still be in for a treat though, as the film revolves around the sci-fi genre in a manner which hasn’t felt this intriguing since Denis Villenvues’ ‘Arrival’ in 2013. Although completely different films, both come as the work of a director firmly hitting their stride, as they explore ideas which were present in their previous films, but begin to traverse completely new regions in equal, or greater measure. 

Of course the story is great, the performances work well within the context of the story, but also this is just a film which looks incredible. The colour palette is consistently dusty and barren throughout, to match the horse ranch setting, but moments of dynamic and colourful imagery, dotted precisely throughout, re-engage the audience with their fascinating composition. Whether that be a setting as simple as a supermarket, late-night diner, or live television set from decades ago, each scene holds the audiences gaze in a well-crafted way so as to constantly reinforce the idea that these are people mixed up in an exciting and unpredictable adventure.

Definitely not the creepiest or most thrilling of his films, I would most likely categorise Peele’s new film as more of sci-fi/western/adventure. In fact, aside from the occasional intensity of a small handful of scenes, many of the supposedly more edge-of-your-seat moments, play out beautifully thanks to the incredible composition and set designs of the visuals. Though it may not contain the social and political depth of ‘Get Out’ – at least not any that has surfaced so far – ‘Nope’ is a film which simply makes for compelling viewing. A perfect cinema film.

Where the Crawdads Sing – Review.

Rating:15 Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickenson and David Strathairn. Directed by Olivia Newman. Written by Lucy Alibar (screenplay) and Delia Owens (based on the novel by). Length: 125mins. 

The film is set in the beautiful and dangerous marshland of North Carolina in the 50s and 60s, a place ‘where the crawdads sing’. Edgar-Jones plays Kya, a young woman who has basically raised herself in a remote shack deep in the marshland. She’s had to learn to survive when her drunken and violent Pa drove her mother and siblings away after years of domestic abuse; that is until her Pa dies leaving her to fend for herself. As a teenager Kya is basically on her own, making a living by selling mussels to the local store, roaming wild and free on the wetlands in her boat and drawing pictures of the nature that she’s so at one with. This unusual lifestyle separates Kya from the ‘normality’ of the townsfolk and she is treated with contempt by most, with few allies and, once an adult, catches the attention of two young men. The first, Tate, taught her to read and encouraged her artistic talents but soon went off to study. The second, Chase, picks up the pieces of her somewhat broken heart and does his best to win her affection… 

The opening scenes of the film show the discovery of a dead body in the marshland, the body belonging to Chase. He’s a popular man about town and everyone is in shock at his demise. Considering the location of his body Kya or ‘the marsh girl’ as she’s known becomes the number one suspect and we find our plot. Kya is arrested and the film jumps between her trial and her story. While in the present we see evidence against her and the noble defence of the outcast girl, broken up appropriately with Kya’s upbringing, experiences and life as a young woman all leading up to the moment that Chase lost his life. 

I find films like this to be so interesting. First and foremost, this being based on a best selling book with a large fan base – often when popular books are made into movies there’s an element of disappointment at the result, however every single fan of the book that I spoke to said it was just as good as the book, a rare situation indeed! Secondly, I was baffled by the majority of the critics reviews being so very negative. Yes, this film is not perfect, but for some reason critics seem to focus on unusual elements such as costume choices or details around Kya’s hygiene rather than the plot, performances, direction and cinematography. It seems as though there was an agreed upon opinion for this film from the very beginning, one which I’m pleased to say I disagree with and in speaking to vast audiences, so do the masses. 

I do agree that perhaps the ending is a little cheesy and that there were definitely moments that felt slow, but as a general rule the movie was engaging, interesting and shot beautifully. A personal criticism is the choice in names for the male leads, I found myself forgetting who was Tate and who was Chase as their names were so similar but that is likely just me and not really a criticism at all! Where the Crawdads Sing is a really solid film and I would highly recommend, it’s definitely one to watch to form your own opinions on but it is worth noting that it does include some upsetting scenes.