There are a few film makers whose work can’t be put in a box. Jordan Peele is one such director. After the instant cult successes of his two titles, Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), anything that has his name attached to it draws instant attention. When Peele announced the title of this latest work – Nope, the Internet went batshit crazy coming up with multiple conspiracy theories about what the film might be about. Much like its title, the trailer of Nope was too ambiguous and eerie. So does Nope live up to the hype that Jordan Peele is, or are his five minutes of fame actually over ? Lets find out.
The opening scenes of Nope set the tone for what will follow. A chimpanzee goes rabid in a film set in what looks like cold-blooded murder. His face and hands covered with blood, the image of a blood-soaked chimp against the setting of a birthday party is freaky enough to draw your attention. The plot then races to a horse farm where we meet OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) who, along with his sister Em (Keke Palmer) is trying to keep his horses and ranch from being bought by a theme park owner, Ricky (Steven Yeun). Now Ricky has a connection with the chimpanzee episode. He was the child star on that set and those images have come back to haunt him even now.
Nope is a story of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing a loved one, fear of suspending your belief because what you see in front of your eyes is hauntingly dark and unnerving. OJ and Em start experiencing strange encounters with what looks like a UFO hovering around their ranch. The arrival of this alien object causes death and destruction to the people living in that area. OJ and Em are later joined by Angel (Brandon Perera) who works in an electrical equipment store and Antlers Holst, (Michael Wincott) who is an award-winning film maker. This team of four sets out to track the UFO – named Jean Jacket by the group.
Nope has multiple subtext layers running through the film. At the surface, the film is about conquering your fears and also deals with the concept of human greed. Technically, Nope is one of the best shot films of the year. I won’t be surprised to see it nab multiple nominations in the award season next year.
Performances, too are a major highlight. Kaluyya’s performance, even in his previous films, has always been about the eyes doing most of the talking. In Nope, he lets his gaze wander from the sky to the shadows lurking in the dark to the point where the horizon meets the barren ground. Daniel is in top form. But for me, the star of the show is Keke Palmer. The myriad of emotions she brings to the surface as she portrays the vulnerable and yet cocky and cheeky side of Em is just what true artistry is all about. Palmer is just a natural from the first time she appears on screen till the very last. The background score, like most of Peele’s films, plays a very important part in setting up the mood for the film.
Nope is brimming with tension, it grips you from the very first scene and that grip only gets tighter as the film reaches its stunning climax. If you haven’t watched Nope, you have missed one of the biggest mind trips of 2022. An absolute must watch.
ALSO READ: Nope director Jordan Peele calls Daniel Kaluuya a ‘flawless actor’, opens up on if expectations burden him
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