Despite the critical and financial success of Jordan Peele’s debut, Get Out (2017), and sophomore effort, Us (2019), Peele’s newest feature, Nope, is perhaps the biggest indicator of just how rapidly this burgeoning auteur is maturing in terms of screenwriting and his control behind the camera. It’s no wonder this was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Once again taking on familiar genre conventions, but presenting them with a new twist, Peele’s spin on the classic Alien/UFO film is as refreshing as it is unsettling.
Normally, aliens in film often represent something external, an outside force invading innocent human masses; but in Nope, what’s reflected by the UFO’s all-consuming path of destruction is internal, specifically how modern society is obsessed with spectacle: from national tragedies to supernatural phenomena, everything can be turned into click-bait. The film’s very premise reflects this exploration of fame, human connection and the gaze: instead of fleeing imminent danger after seeing what they believe without doubt to be an alien space craft, siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood set out to capture it on film and make a fortune off of proving that humans aren’t alone in the universe. Peele’s fantastic screenwriting—brought to life by Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya’s riveting performances—is further emphasized by the film’s formal elements.
Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography uses mostly practicals and natural lighting to achieve some fantastically tone-heavy shots that are guaranteed to set audiences on the edge of their seats; and Nicholas Monsour’s editing sets a slow-then-fast pace that will get hearts racing. Overall, it’s both a smart look at the way our society turns everything into clickbait, as well as a searing critique of how, despite this obsession with looking, there are still entire histories and peoples that remain ignored. Catch Nope in theaters while you can. It was shot on IMAX film cameras, which means you’re in for a visual feast you won’t soon forget.
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