Nope review: strange, immersive sci-fi ride

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Jordan Peele always has more to say with his films than meets the eye. With Nope he takes it more subtle and mysterious than with Get Out and Us , but again it is a captivating, inspiring and extremely atmospheric film.

About the horse lifted industry

The movie industry is a tricky place. It can make you big and wanted, but also spit it out just as quickly. Or you simply forget over time. OJ – short for Otis Jr (Daniel Kaluuya) – and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) also experience this twist of fate after the death of their father. They are the umpteenth generation to supply Hollywood with trained horses. Daughter and son just don’t have their father’s connections anymore. With the slightest problems, the makers opt for CGI instead of real horses.

To make money, OJ sells some horses to a nearby amusement park. It is run by Jupe (Steven Yeun, Minari), a child actor who experienced a traumatic accident on a movie set. He wants to capitalize on his past by hosting shows with the Haywoods’ horses. Only there’s something uneasy about the valley of Agua Dulce, something otherworldly that is partly responsible for the death of Otis Senior. He got a penny in his head that just fell out of the sky along with a whole host of other objects. When OJ realizes what it is, he also tries to save his company financially by getting it on screen. They get help from true believer and electrical salesman Angel (Brandon Perea) and an eccentric cameraman by the fantastic name Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott)........

The Greatest Show Business

Jordan Peele seems to want to hold up a mirror with Nope Hollywood. OJ and Em are the tech crew who rarely get the credit but do the hard work. That is why they also mention the work of their ancestor, who was the man in the first moving images. Jupe is the showman who takes the work of others and wants to capitalize on it for himself. But the viewer is not innocent either. The general appetite for spectacle means that the smaller players have to do more and more to stay authentic. In the end, they have to play the game. (See, for example, the articles on how Marvel treats VFX companies .) Can anyone escape?

You have to gather all that yourself, because Peele mainly focuses on the story itself. Daniel Kaluuya won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor last year and still doesn’t miss a beat. As an OJ, he’s incredibly introverted, but he always radiates a charisma that forces you to look at him. Keke Palmer is allowed to do just the opposite, with his heart on his tongue and no mincemeat. Together you see in them a brother and sister that you recognize yourself in. The things that bind them together but might as well make them grow apart. Only they don’t spend enough time before all the craziness breaks out to completely sell the emotional denouement. The duo have great chemistry with Perea, and Steven Yeun is always an asset to a film, especially when he also gives off a strange energy.

Learned from the greats

Nope is above all an excellent example of creating atmosphere. Especially in the first half of the film you are surrounded by an uncomfortable and at the same time almost absurdly strange atmosphere reminiscent of Midsommar . Peele does not say goodbye to horror here either: a few jump scares, but above all the fear of the unknown and invisible. In the interpretation of this, and the extraterrestrial aspect that comes with it, Peele clearly drew the mustard from greats such as Hitchcock, Spielberg and Shyamalan.

Finally, Nope is also a modern western, especially evoked by the once again beautiful and versatile music of Michael Abels. It works in tandem with the rock-solid sound design and mix. I haven’t heard sound used so effectively since Arrival and A Quiet Place . The eye is also treated, because Peele chose Hoyte Van Hoytema ( Tenet ) for the sculpture. Soft but bright colours, expansive shots and interesting camera angles… This is a collaboration I love. And whatever message you see in his films, Jordan Peele remains a unique voice in Hollywood that we should let do its own thing.