Get Out was awarded the gong for the most original screenplay with writer Jordan Peele accepting the golden statuette and admitting he stepped away from the script at least 20 times thinking it impossible, doubting it would ever be picked up. It is the first time an African-American has triumphed in this category, which all feeds royally into the theme of the piece.
Perfect and white Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) wants to allay the concerns of her boyfriend of five months, black photographer Chris (British-Ugandan star Daniel Kaluuya), about the family he has yet to meet. He is anxious about their weekend trip upstate – further rattled by a deer strike en route – even if the initial reception from her Obama-voting father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is all convivial hugs with seemingly not one eyelid batted about his skin colour.
Chris, who the viewer trusts implicitly, at first takes this as politeness, but then all is not what it seems and discomfit settles in and never leaves. Dean is talking about black mould in the locked basement and showing off trinkets of his travels, trumpeting on about how marvellous it is to experience different cultures. His socially-awkward servants of colour Georgina and Walter are clumsily pouring iced tea and chopping wood with menace, lurking at windows and running around the lawns at night.
Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) distresses with his after-dinner games idea. Therapist Missy offers to cure Chris of his dirty smoking habit by dabbling in hypnotherapy with the help of a tinkling china cup and spoon. We subsequently see him in a nightmare as he is transported to a ‘sunken place’ with beyond challenging questions about the shocking demise of his dearly-departed mum (the close up on his tear-stained face is the billboard shot for the movie and also reveals Kaluuya’s incredible skin tone – it struck me anyhow).
And then there are the garden party guests, dropping into conversation the fact they know Tiger Woods, delight that dark skins are fashionable these days (‘the pendulum swinging from pale’), not to mention genetically robust and probing the rumours about interracial relations between the sheets. Wow. Liberal racism in all its glory creeps into something all the more sinister. Chris should have listened to his funny friend Rod, who is looking after the snapper’s dog Sid and urgently piecing together the clues.
Finally, we learn the significance of the opening sequence in which a young black guy (Lakeith Stanfield) walks down a suburban street, talking on his phone, and is pounced upon by a kerb-crawler in a sportscar. Never has the jolly ditty Run, Rabbit, Run sounded more foreboding . . . A CHEEKY little spot by a friend on Film4 in the past few days was Big Eyes – and it left me opened mouthed. The Tim Burton film stars two actors I am fond of – Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz – as Margaret and Walter Keane, a strange but true story of an artistic brand in Sixties America I had never heard of before behind which was hiding an incredible secret.
We first meet Monroe-lookalikey Margaret as a divorcee who arrives in San Francisco with her young daughter in the late 1950s and secures herself a job painting Humpty Dumpties on mass-produced cots. She also works on the side doing dollar portraits and it is at a riverside art fair that she and her future second husband first meet.
The era and her lack of confidence are against her and Walter sees an opportunity to exploit, but we do not learn the true extent until a little further into the action. The real-estate chap, who charms over red wine and tales of Bohemian Paris, is at best a part-time painter of dull street scenes and cannot match his wife’s skill; encapsulated in the images of her waifs with the saucer-sized ‘windows to the soul’.
These are the canvases that become a national sensation and Walter incredibly takes the credit for the work. He convinces her as the consummate salesman that this is the best way to make the most money, all the while her gut churning over her art. But she goes along with the lie and it takes her to dark places, including her studio from where even her child is banished as she churns out more ‘Keanes’.
The slow burn of the film is watching Margaret, who we care about, find the courage to confront and tackle her suppression, culminating in a court case like no other. Walter apparently went to his grave still believing his own hype; telling himself something enough times it became his reality. Margaret’s art may have been derided by the critics as kitsch, but the people loved it and it holds another layer of significance considering the conditions under which it was produced. The soundtrack features a couple of numbers by Lana Del Rey, some uplifting strains to accompany candid shots of Adams and the real Margaret Keane at the end with a line or two about how the rest of her life panned out.