Jordan Peele is back with yet another strikingly original piece of cinema. This time, the mastermind behind “Get Out” and (the still slightly underrated) Us brings audiences a captivating, metaphor laden, visually dazzling spectacle. We’ll leave the review light on plot as the go to phrase you’ll hear a million times with this one is on the money. Less is more.
We meet Daniel Kaluuya’s ‘OJ’ and Keke Palmer’s ‘Emerald’, after an unfortunate incident leaves them head honchos of their father’s Hollywood Horse rearing business, until a string of strange circumstances leaves them questioning all that they know.
Straight away I think you can file Nope as the strangest of the Jordan Peele canon. A mixing pot of tones and genres, all designed to keep you enthralled, confused, and on edge. And it does so through its magnetic lead duo. Kaluuya’s stock is already as high as it can be following his Oscar win, and every part of his subtle (and at times brutally funny) performance here shows why. His natural dramatic ability and comedic timing shine through once again, none more so than when he utters the film’s title during an intense pressure point of the story.
More props to Peele here, who’s writing builds tension with such ease, sending your mind into a spin, ticking through all the potential horrors that lay mere seconds/minutes away, only to pop that tension like a balloon with a viciously funny one liner. This is by far the funniest/most geared for laughs of his three efforts so far.
The other half of this electric pair is the undeniable Keke Palmer (Hustlers). Destined for super-stardom, her performance as ‘Emerald’ acts as a wonderful antithesis of ‘OJ’. A ball of energy and life, holding the screen by the scruff of the neck from the moment she makes her grand entrance with the cinematic monologue of the year. If Peele and Kaluuya’s partnership looks set to continue for years to come, don’t be surprised to see Palmer make it a consistent trio.
Honourable mentions should also go to Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott, both of whom bring much to the character dynamic, in fact Perea’s tech-savy ‘Angel’ is responsible for some of the best jokes in the film (watch out for the electric motorbike).
As far as the visuals are concerned, this is certainly the biggest Peele has gone. Growing ever larger as the minutes tick by, the director and DP Hoyte Van Hoytema have created one of the best-looking films of 2022, with only a fist fight with Tom Cruise & Top Gun: Maverick keeping it off top spot. They place the camera in such a way that you can’t help but move up and down your seat, just trying to catch a glimpse of what lies in the sky, or around the corner. It’s a fully immersive experience that will have you suspicious of the clouds from now until forever.
And while the blockbuster-y nature shines through (especially during the finale) Peele doesn’t forget to layer the story with the carefully crafted meanings and metaphors we’ve come to expect. This time with takes on Hollywood, tragedies, and questioning whether anything is really sacred these days.
This is yet another triumph for Jordan Peele. A distinctly original filmmaker with a distinctly original vision for each of his projects, and while this might the least ‘scary’ of the three so far, it’s no less the edge of your seat thriller.
Sign me up for whatever Peele has in store next.