Last night, I finally got to watch Us. This was a huge accomplishment for me because it’s something I’ve wanted to watch since hearing director Jordan Peele had a new project up his sleeves. And let me tell you, this was well worth the wait.
Us is a psychological thrill questioning good and evil as two sides of the same coin. There’s a lot to discuss so let’s dive in.
Meet The Wilsons
This film introduces us to Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, our hero, or so we thought. She’s had some childhood trauma when she wandered into a mirror fun house and came face to face with her tethered copy, known only as Red. After the experience she was seemingly terrified and lost the will to speak. It was only with dance that she was able to express herself and eventually find her voice.
Years later, she’s married to Black Panther’s M’Baku and has two kids. They go to a summer beach house and she can’t help but feel off, trying to explain to her husband about this other version of her.
Lupita is straight up terrifying in this film. It’s no secret that she’s a fantastic actress, but her portrayal of both Adelaide and Red was stellar. To be honest, all the performances from the cast were wonderful, even the children as they played their mirror images, reflecting their evil selves back at them (Star Trek Mirror Mirror anyone?).
My only issue with their dynamic was how useless the father continuously became throughout the film. Trust me, I get it, this was the Lupita show. Peele was creating a strong female lead, almost like the Ripley of thrillers if you will. The issue is that Ripley was the last woman standing, she had to do it all alone. Adelaide was not, her husband just kind of chilled in the corner…being useless. He was really only there for comic relief.
Here’s the problem with not watching something right away, being told that there was a twist. Because of that, I knew Peele had something hidden up his sleeve. Midway though the film, I turned to my sister in the theatre and said, “I bet this Adelaide is the mirrored copy and the crazy one is the original”. Surprise, I was right.
But if you think about, Peele masterfully dropped clues throughout the film to give it away.
- When we’re introduced to Red, she’s the only one of the tethered that can speak. But when we hear her voice it’s horse, almost broken, as though she hasn’t used it in years. Or perhaps, because she had it literally chocked out of her.
- When you think about how young Adelaide is reacting with her family after her experience, maybe she wasn’t talking because she simply didn’t know how to? Maybe she was watching her family during therapy because she was experiencing everything for the first time?
- When Adelaide was going to find her son Jason, she seemed to know exactly were she was going, and to know exactly where to find Jason. It’s because she was returning home, and knew the original Adelaide would be waiting for her to pay for stealing her life.
- All the tethered wear red, almost prison looking jumpsuits, the same colour as the candy apple that young Adelaide drops on the beach before going into the mirror house. Essentially her own prison.
- The plan Red came up with of holding hands came from a commercial young Adelaide watched for Hands Across America. It’s something that she focused on when planning her revenge and escape.
That being said, there was a moment when I thought, perhaps I was wrong about the twist. This was when Peele revealed that everyone had tethered copies and were using the scissors to cut their strings away, aka kill the originals. The Wilsons were experiencing an apocalypse type event with all the tethered coming up to kill. Once that was revealed, I assumed there wouldn’t be more to the story, and that this was in fact the twist Peele was giving us.
I pushed my original idea from my head, that is until…
When Adelaide kills Red, she starts making the same animalistic noises that we heard from the tethered. At first I thought, okay she’s clearly lost her mind, but once she finds her son Jason and tries to assure him everything will go back to normal, I knew that my original theory was correct. And Jason knew it also, he’d seen his mother kill not once, but twice, and while she’s ultimately still his mother, he knows what she really is. And why Red came after them in the first place.
This ending brought up some questions for me.
- The government attempted to clone some of the population but were unable to clone the soul, what made Adelaide so different? How come once she switched lives she was able to learn how to be human? Does this mean she developed a soul? Does this mean all of the tethered can develop one?
- Red describes giving birth because Adelaide did, so does this mean that the tethered children aren’t technically clones?
- If Red was able to teach the tethered to stop copying the originals, how come tethered Jason still copies? Is it something that maybe he struggles with?
- If Adelaide was the clone how come the original copied what she did once their roles switched and not vice versa? I guess Adelaide was able to break free from copying? So then why did Red start copying her? Like with the ballet recital.
And now we get to my favourite part of the film, all the hidden gems Peele gave us. The most obvious was 11:11. This was something that seemed to follow Adelaide around everywhere she went. As I’ve been saying throughout my review, the tethered are the mirror images of the originals, much like in Star Trek’s mirror mirror universe, where we meet an evil Federation full of the characters doppelgängers. This is never more clear than with the visual of 11:11.
We’re also given some Biblical reverences with Jeremiah 11:11. I actually had to look this up because I didn’t remember the exact verse, but it states that “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”
The question here is who’s bringing the evil? Is it the tethered coming up to kill the originals to free them from hell? Or is the evil the pointless suffering that the tethered were forced to endure?
Similarly, who’s the evil one, Red or Adelaide?
Oh Peele, your naughty little minx! Treating us like test rabbits and taking us down the rabbit hole with you. I see what you did sir, and I’m here for it.
This film was amazing! Another hit for Jordan Peele, and while I absolutely loved it, I think that I liked Get Out more. Don’t quote me on this, I could change my mind after watching Us a second time.
Have you watched Us? What did you think?