This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
When I saw the trailer for this movie, and Keke Palmer's doing her safety meeting bit about "since the moment pictures could move, we had skin in the game," and she gets the terminology wrong when referring to her horseback riding ancestor who's in the photographs that became the first motion picture, and Daniel Kaluuya corrects her, what I thought this was showing was Em's disinterest in the horse business, or maybe a kind of flippant attitude. But then there's a moment much much later on, in the actual movie, where she's sitting at home and a storm's about to roll in, when she puts in a VHS tape, and sits there and watches her dad give the same speech. And it struck me that she got the genealogy wrong not because she doesn't care, but because she has watched her dad give this speech so many times, has modeled herself after him, has imagined herself as him, or envied him (as in when Otises Junior and Senior got to train Jean Jacket), and now he's gone, and she's trying to fill in that space, her and OJ, and so when she gets up to do the safety meeting, at their first gig since his death, she finds herself repeating his words verbatim, and he's there, he's a kind of ghost, an omnipresence in the hollow spaces of their relationship. I'm not even sure we're supposed to think all this stuff, but I do, and it's this kind of quiet weariness or grief on the outskirts of the movie that I just love so much, that makes this feel so much more mature and textured than Jordan Peele's earlier two movies (even if I still think I very slightly prefer Us). Em and OJ have one of my favorite on-screen relationships in recent memory, and it's because they get quiet things like this, that very subtly cast this larger impression of their imagined relationship in our minds, that lets this happen. It feels like trust. More thoughts on watch #4.