The Red Turtle
February 23, 2017
Get Out (***)
Jordan Peele, half of the comedy duo, Key and Peele, makes quite a splash with his filmmaking debut Get Out. This is a film that fits snugly under the horror movie umbrella but also manages to be much more in that it sneaks in larger statements regarding race, among other things. It also manages to temper its terror with a good dose of humor from time to time. In short it’s a perfect popcorn movie that is also smart and assumes its audience is as intelligent and hip as the film itself.
The plot of the film obviously borrows elements from the basic premise of the fifty-year old film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Here, we have a couple who've reached the meet the parents stage of the relationship.
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
Rose (Alison Williams) opts to take her African American boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a photographer, to meet her neurosurgeon dad (Bradley Whitford) and psychiatrist mom (Catherine Keener) who live in a sprawling house in the country. Of course things get off to an ominous start when they hit a deer en route. Once they get to their destination it becomes increasingly apparent to Chris that something is definitely out of synch in this universe. The most telling thing being that all of the people of color that Chris comes into contact with while staying at Rose’s parents’ house seem to be in some sort of a trance, each one accommodating and a little too eager to please. Lucky for Chris, his best friend happens to be dog sitting back at Chris and Rose’s home. He works for the TSA and, using his detective instincts, figures out what’s really going down once Chris seemingly disappears.
The trick of Get Out is how it builds suspense for at least a good hour before gradually revealing to the audience exactly what is afoot. Peele, as a filmmaker, does a great job orchestrating certain sequences and exhibits a firm grasp on the language of cinema. It’s most impressive for a first time director who’s spent much of his career in television and it’s clear he’s done his homework. Based on this effort I’ll be interested to see what his next trick might be.
The Red Turtle (*** ½)
The Oscar nominated French import, The Red Turtle, is the kind of animated film that’s all too rare these days. Freed from the shackles of conventionality that limit most films in the genre, The Red Turtle doesn’t offer up any of the usual clichéd tropes of talking animals, endless popular culture references and comic buffoonery. Instead filmmaker, Michael Dudok De Wit, has opted to gift moviegoers with a beautiful meditation on the cycles of life from birth to death.
The fact that the film is a dialogue-free affair, relying instead on the gestures and facial expressions of the characters, is certain to alienate some mainstream prospects. Audiences accustomed to the current crop of 3-D animation that is found on most multiplex screens will also be taken aback by the quaint and old-fashioned 2-D style that brings the characters to life. Those seeking something substantial to chew on when going to the movies, however, will find much to embrace.
The plot of the film is rather simplistic and that’s yet another feather in its crown. Here an unnamed man finds himself shipwrecked in the film’s early scenes.
The Red Turtle
Luckily, for him, it’s the kind of habitat that allows for a steady supply of food so his immediate survival isn’t really a question. It becomes readily apparent, however, that the extreme loneliness inherent in the man’s tenable situation is unbearable. In order to remedy his predicament the reluctant castaway makes multiple attempts to put together a makeshift raft. Much to his consternation, his efforts are repeatedly thwarted by a large red turtle, which he attempts to kill.
It’s at this point that the film introduces a fantasy element into the proceedings when the man awakens to discover a woman where the turtle had once been. Picture something akin to a mermaid and you’ll get the general idea.
At first the man isn’t sure if what he’s seeing is reality or simply a mirage. There are scenes early on where the castaway thinks he sees an orchestra playing on the beach only to find he’s imagined it. Once he discovers that the red turtle has transformed into a woman he’s even more perplexed. They eventually fall in love and the film takes us along on the journey that the two have embarked upon.
The Red Turtle reminds us that we’re only here for a fleeting second as far as time as concerned and it leaves you with a sense of the quickness of time’s passing. It’s a tremendously moving experience for those willing to get on its wavelength.
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