“No” is aimed at the public wishing to deepen American culture
- Release date: 08/19/2022
- Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Steven Yeun
- Director: Jordan Pele
No!…I’m not convinced…but I still love you very much
Jordan Pele has become synonymous with creating ready-made horror/thriller fare, ambiguous to some degree and open to a wide range of interpretations. people believed that get out would be just one of those films that would show white people in a bad light and highlight the horrific abuses they have committed on black people. In the end, this film turned out to be one of the rare examples where we see white people acknowledging the superiority of black people in relation to their own biological structure and traits. This fact was the basis of the whole plot of the film. This came as a major shock to many and made the movie extremely interesting and intriguing. In his second film, We, he dealt with the idea of cloning, social experiments, wild scientific experiments, betrayal and a whole bunch of other things. Us was a bittersweet affair for me, though many captivated my senses.
Nope is Peele’s third film and it’s about a possible alien invasion. You probably knew that a lot from the trailers. Being a movie about an alien invasion is only a small part of it. As has been the case with all of Jordan Peele’s films, Nope is a film about many other things. The story revolves around siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) who are horse wrestlers. The siblings fell into a financial pit after the death of their father who was killed by a coin that lodged in his head like a bullet from the sky. OJ always doubted how his father died, but had to question everything and instead focus on finding a livelihood. He sells his horses to Ricky (Steven Yeun), a man who owns a theme park and possibly uses the horses as attractions in his park. OJ wants to lead the way to recover the horses. Things take an interesting turn when the siblings notice bizarre happenings on their ranch and decide to film them. Their idea is to sell the images for enough money which would then solve all their financial problems. What happens next is the subject of the film.
Nope is the kind of movie that will drive a wedge among audiences. There will be those who absolutely love it and call it a modern masterpiece. Then there will be those who get frustrated with his lack of resolution to many of the problems and plot points he sets up but never resolves and who would hate him for it. For once, I have a very fragmented vision of the film. There were a lot of things that I liked in the film and then there were as many that I didn’t like. It will only be fair for me to point out everything I liked and hated about the movie and let my readers consciously decide if everything I liked outweighed everything I didn’t like. and in doing so made the film a worthy watch for them or vice versa.
Writing and Dialogues:
The film’s writing and dialogue are exceptional. The film moves from setting to setting and how those settings are envisioned, written, and how characters are made to interact with each other, and situations will keep audiences captivated. The dialogues between the characters are so captivating, natural, witty and full of intrigue that they will make you watch and listen carefully to the proceedings. If you miss the dialogues, chances are you will miss important parts of the plot and it will further alienate you from the movie. Also, if you want to understand the emotional and psychological centers of the characters, the only option you have is to listen to the dialogues and decipher the characters using the things they tell each other. It reveals a lot about the characters and helps you understand some of the choices they make. I loved that Peele shows events that have ramifications throughout the film, and he shows them in the most intriguing way possible even if he doesn’t reveal much in these scenes.
The performances of the ensemble cast were brilliant. There wasn’t a single actor who didn’t do his best. Daniel Kaluuya is a regular on Jordan Peele, and I knew what to expect from his portrayal of OJ. Interestingly, he managed to surprise me with his performance. He plays a man who is conflicted with a lot going on around him lately and is always confident of finding a way between the challenges and making it big for himself. He is also surprisingly brave and there are times when his inherent goodness is revealed in an act of amazing bravery or selflessness. All of these aspects of the characters are rendered with a mixture of quirky charm and resolute confidence by Kaluuya that makes OJ an instantly likable and interesting protagonist.
Keke Palmer as OJ’s sister Emerald is a live thread. She talks fast. She reacts quickly. She decides quickly. She embodies and portrays all that is both good and bad with a certain category of women. While there will be those who will love to hate her overbearing presence on OJ and the whole plot, one cannot ignore the fact that there are people like her in this world, and Palmer’s interpretation of such a character is incredibly relatable and real to characters who have the same traits. Her character drives the narrative forward and that’s one of the reasons her character is important and interesting in the scheme of things.
Steven Yeun’s Ricky is someone who is going through a traumatic childhood experience that led him to believe that he might have some control or reach with a certain being who might be more than anything anyone can think of. who else might have on being. It makes him do things he regrets in the end. What I liked about Yeun’s performance was that I was able to draw a straight line between his younger self and his current self. He was not only able to capture the mental state of the character, but also managed to maintain parity between his younger and older selves. This caused the character to transition organically over the years and compounded the impact of the performance.
The film’s cinematography was one of its strengths. It’s visual storytelling at its finest where visuals and frames share information not shared in spoken words. The visuals complement the mood and setting and add to the horror or surprise of what the characters are going through. There are many sequences made even more powerful because of the way they are captured and edited. As my friend I was watching the movie with rightly pointed out, there were a lot of Hitchcockian angles, editing, and stylistic depictions that made the movie all the more enticing. The wide, expansive shots that form much of the film’s final 30 minutes will leave you spellbound and begging for more.
The film’s sound design is one of its greatest strengths. This had to be so since the depiction of the alien entity had to be conveyed using sound and minimal visual representation for much of the film. It was to maintain the intrigue and the surprise. The sound design in this respect is still brilliant. Apart from a small piece in the sound which I believe was recycled from Arrival, most of the other sounds were unique, punchy, and perfectly balanced to spark horror, surprise, and interest in what was unfolding. Even normal sounds like the growl of a horse are used imaginatively to extract different reactions from the audience at different times.
That said, I still had a few issues with the movie that marred my experience of the movie.
The Alien Design:-
I hated the alien design. By the time it’s revealed, I already had some expectation for it and what it ended up being was so far-fetched and disappointing that I couldn’t help but be disappointed. The design also raised major questions about the things the alien was shown doing in the beginning and put a question mark over whether or not the design justified those things. If that wasn’t enough, the color and overall presence of it robbed it of any sense of fear or thrill, resulting in an opponent that looked more like a glorified robe or blanket than a fearsome creature of another planet.
While there’s a certain charm to leaving things ambiguous and making films open to different interpretations, it’s never wise to leave so many questions unanswered that leave viewers feeling unsatisfied and cheated. . This was exactly the case with Nope. While Peele can justify not explaining the genesis and existence of the alien as the story unfolds from OJ and Emerald’s perspective, he can never justify leaving a truckload of questions directly related to the different characters and situations in the film. It should be noted that these situations and characters also impact the narrative in their own way and have a constant hold on the proceedings.
It can be difficult for non-Americans to get fully involved:-
The dialogues and different story elements of the film are wrapped in American culture and way of life. Peele drives his narrative forward by taking a lot of things for granted. He is right to do so because these things might be common knowledge to Americans. Additionally, there are many emotional cues and subtle nuances in the drama and storytelling that will only make sense to people aware of that cultural or regional aspect of the story element and who might not have the same impact on someone like me who is not on the same page with these elements. It won’t be wrong to say that the film will appeal much more to people aware of the genesis of its many themes and characters and their perception of life. This also includes how these characters interact with each other.
Last words:-Nope was a bittersweet experience for me for the reasons already mentioned. Peele may have tried to keep his appeal more global, but that was never his intention. It will appeal to anyone who doesn’t shy away from unanswered questions in their films and wants to delve deeper into American culture and way of life in search of answers and understanding of the dramatic and cinematic themes used in the film. For others, it’ll be fun to watch until the movie reveals all of its maps and ill-conceived alien.
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