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Nope (Film Review)

3 min read

Anyone entering 's latest will, of course, have read extensively about Guy Debord's theory on “The Spectacle”. In laymen's terms it's a belief that all of society is dictated by a capitalist desire for more, on all fronts, and that existing is to partake. in it's many twists and turns is at times a meditation on spectacle in all it's facets, a look at the unsung people of Hollywood and about how mankind is not the apex it believes it is.

We meet Otis “OJ” Haywood Jr () and his sister Emerald () the great great great grandchildren of the first on screen actor, a jockey riding a horse for six seconds. When their father dies from falling debris – specifically a coin – they are forced to take over his horse rearing business for Hollywood shoots.

To say much more would be to ruin the profound joy that comes from having yourself wrong footed by Jordan Peele. After he wowed audiences with Get Out, and cemented his original brand of Twilight Zone-style horror's with social bite in Us, he comes with Nope. As his debut film was a riff on Ira Levin style social satire, and his second outing showed his Kubrick-eye for clockwork filmmaking, his third feature shows him at full Spielberg. The spectacle of the big screen is there, in full IMAX glory but it's the human story that takes the front stage.

What Peele is talking about is how we as a society are drawn into looking, we demand spectacle. Be it bigger and bigger action movies, or the spectacle of real life, the turning of true tragedy into binge worthy true-crime serials we devour and discuss like amateur sleuths. Peele is commenting on how nothing is sacred, honest to god tragedies are just a TMZ reporter or an SNL sketch away from being new fodder.

Universal Pictures

The recurrent motif of animals, we blithely believe we have a right to train or parade around without respecting their boundaries parallels what we expect from tragedy. We expect people to act a certain way even under duress and wait for the inevitable. 

Peele mixes this, and a lot of other heavy stuff into a film that is at turns, jump scare filled and laughter inducing, sometimes in the same scene, sometimes in the same sentence. Peele is so sure footed in his filmmaking he knows when to foreshadow, when to return to moments, when to let a scene sit. For his trouble the Hoyte van Hoytema cinematography is gorgeous, the Michael Abels score infectious and the visual effects used sparingly but well.

One sequence in the middle of the film is one of the most harrowing ten minutes put to film punctuated by the smallest hand gesture that will linger in the memory for a very long time. It helps also that Peele has Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, , and as his principle players all bringing a sense of impending doom to the film while never feeling like less than complete human beings.

Nope is simply put one of the year's best films, a film about film, and about consumption that will give to the viewer what they bring to it. A spectacle that you simple cannot look away from. 

Nope is released in UK cinemas on August 12th