Guess what? Spoilers follow!
First thing first: I must give this article a headline, something like " Us Us conclusion, explained" or " dissected" and I shall tell you in front that I do not will explain Us end. I can not.
Jordan Peele's second movie has an end that dries you to bring what you think of it. When the end of his first film, Get Out (for which he won an act of Oscar), was a series of puzzles that snap into place, Us ends in a way that causes the film's structure to spread endlessly. There are five different puzzles mixed in the same box, and you only have about 75 percent of the pieces for any of them at best.
But I found this approach incredibly engaging. The audience who left my screening the second night seemed sharply divided on the film ̵
So let's first talk about what happens in the end, how we could read what ends and then try to find a way to synthesize all those ideas.
What happens at the end of Us  Us breaks evenly into a classic wood-like structure. The first action is all worrying setup, first with a backlink to our protagonist, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong & # 39; o), as a young girl encountering a creepy mirror version of herself, then for the first few days of a family vacation, she takes with her husband (Winston Duke) and children as an adult. The second act follows Adelaide and her family's actions after being threatened by terrible double versions of themselves – played by the same actors – during a long, disgusting night.
The second action – about the middle hour of the 116-minute movie – is basically perfect, the kind of expertise we see too rarely. And all the way, Peele wounds in the show, as when we learn that Adelaide and her family are not the only ones threatened by their doubles (called "tethers" in the movie because they are tied to their mirror images) by cutting away to the evil murder of two of their friends (Tim Heidecker and Elisabeth Moss) of friends doubles.
Part of this exhibition is listed directly as when Adelaide's double, Red, explains exactly who she is and who her compatriots are. The second exhibition is mostly implied. (Pay particular attention to, for example, who the kills kill and who they just maimize.) And still other things are just me to read my own opinions in the movie.
In all cases, the third action begins when the family finally makes it daylight, after killing two of their doubles, with a third double falling right at the top of the file three. The only tether left is Red, who absconds with Adelaide's son, Jason (Evan Alex), and runs with him into a gigantic complex of tunnels found beneath the Santa Cruz boardwalk and – it is implied – the whole country.
The tunnels have the feeling of an abandoned military facility more than anything else, and they are filled with rabbits that have been released from cages. (The rabbits are the only food they get.) These vague military traces of some Red tell Adelaide when the two finally turn into what seems to be a classroom. The tether was created by a nebulous "them" to control their other self.
But the experiment was abandoned for inexplicable reasons and left the ground beneath the ground and mimicked every movement on it, living living where they have no free will, living entirely dictated by our choices. (The long exposure monologue where Red essentially explains all this is the weakest part of the movie and kills its momentum. This also applies to the long exposure monologue in Get Out !)
Status quo held until Red And Adelaide met as young girls, and the two begin a battle that is almost a dance but still recognizable a fight. (Peele cheats this with the footage of teenager Adelaide – a fantastic ballerina – dancing beautifully as Red replicates her actions in a strange grotesque mirror below the ground.) Finally, Adelaide overcomes Red and kills her. She finds Jason and expires the tunnels.
But over the earth, the many toes have gathered in a mirror of Hands Across America. The event in 1986 meant raising money and awareness of hunger that stretched a 6.5 million chain of people (almost all the way) across the lower 48. The presence of this massive chain of tethers should hopefully clue in viewers to the film's last twist . An ad for Hands Across America is one of the last things Little Adelaide sees before she goes to Santa Cruz Boardwalk with her parents – where she meets Red and (the last scene reveals) is forced to take Red's place in tether the world at the same time Red comes up to ours.
The film never reveals whether this is far buried trauma, that Adelaide is reliving when she and her family go out into the new post-apocalyptic landscape of a world where apparently millions have been murdered by their doubles and a chain of these doubles are against the continent, or if it is something she is most noticeable, all movies refer. You can argue either.
The film leaves you with twist. Adelaide was red and red was adelaide, and then they changed places like young girls. Jason seems to somehow realize this in his mother's eyes, and he looks worried as we cut to the camera tilting over the hills around Santa Cruz – where a long chain of toes extends, presumably from sea to shining sea.
What does it all mean?
There is no meaning to the end of Us and the beauty is so elastic its metaphor is
One of the reasons Get Out went so easily with online theorists, because every single piece was designed to add up to the film's central revelation about older white people who Literally possesses the body of young black people. It was a powerful comment on the racial relations, yes, but Peele seeded hints about the great twist in the plot too. He had clearly thought through all the small details in the film world.
You can't really say the same for Us . Every time you think you've made the movie say, "It's about this!", It slips away from you. Its central metaphor for meeting a literally vicious twin about yourself can certainly be read as a comment on race, but it is also a beautiful brilliant commentary on the class, on capitalism, on gender and on the long-term effects of trauma or mental illness. You can probably add your own options to this list.
All these concepts stop informing each other. Thus, if you want to read what happens to Red and Adelaide as a comment on how different traumatic events weigh on children of funds, as opposed to children growing up with small money, it can support both an interpretation of the film as about mental illness and one where it is about class. does not seem to read as social comments in the same way Get Out was. The middle hour is so much fun because it never really bother to stop and make you think about the film's deeper themes. It's too busy killing tethers by chewing them up in a boat's engine.
Now, my experience with Us was quite different from many people's experiences (at least from the people I talked to) because I guessed from the first flashback sequence that Red and Adelaide had changed places like children. I assumed that the movie wanted me to figure it out, for it was essentially the only way the movie's great plot – the idea that everyone has a tether and not just this specific family – could make sense . Something should have caused this violation in reality, and the connection between Adelaide and Red seemed to be the most likely culprit.
However, it is frankly remarkable that the film works as well as it does when you count on the big twist early on because Peele does a great job of bothering you in ways that make you believe you not can figure it out or that twist is something completely different. (19459003) Get Out has not really "a twist" in the way this movie does, just a revelation that happens before the end.]
Still: Set the twist aside and let's take red her words when it comes to the origin of tethers. Some strange experiments produced them, and now they are a kind of national id, a scarcely controlled shadow itself that every American has. (At one point, when she was asked who she and her family are, Red Croaks, "We are Americans," which … fair.)
The natural recall for this is – it's awful. By giving so much information, but still so little, Peele creates a situation where he feels that he will answer all our questions and just don't. (Credit where it is due: I love how exactly the whole of the third action replicates the experience of falling down a particularly worrying Wikipedia hole at 3pm about somehow finding yourself reading about hands all over America. )
And yet … is twist that confusing? I didn't literally shadow myself, but there is another person out there in the country right now, who could have had my life and career, but instead it has a little less comfortable because he grew up with parents, who did not have enough money to send him to college, or because he grew up on a race other than white, or because he was born a girl or … fill it empty.
Taking a red look at her words means believing in an idea that, of course, seems boiled, but it is also an idea that drives much of modern society. Capitalism requires that we cling desperately to what we have, and the fear that something dark underbelly may come and rob the little we have from us is always present.
But the very idea of society means that we are all linked together somehow, and the actions of us with power and money often make those who do not move on the puppet strings, even though we never know what we do affects our doppelgangers.
And all the time, "those" – who they "are – become richer and richer and more and more powerful.
Thoughts of a universal reading of the end of Us (with excuses for Stanley Kubrick)
But Us t really "about" capitalism, unless you (like me) want to read it in. The movie's metaphor is so resilient that you can easily mount a reading of the movie that says it's about climate change or 2016 elections or zombies. In the scenes of the underground complex, Peele plays the well-known images of zombie films, like legions of people who interfere, shadows of any life they would otherwise live. And I also want to know that if you just want to see Us as a super fun shudder comedy, it is absolutely possible, and you must do that
But I think you can come to some sort of universal understanding of Us, one who trains down in what the film is about on the core and still provides space for the elasticity that Allows you to read as much or as little into your central metaphor as you want. To get there we have to look at the mirror age, which first brings Adelaide and Red together as children.
In 1986, the mirror room has a stereotypical painting by an American Indian sitting at the entrance. Art is offensive in the way all thoughtlessness is. No one cared for who could be harmed by this painting. They just went ahead and painted it. Peele does not enter into one of America's original sins here in the way he induced slavery in Get Out but the postponement of a terrible genocide is at least there .
In 2019, the mirror age has now been lumped into one for the Merlin guide. The inside is the same. Most of the outside is the same. But the Indian's painting has been replaced – not very convincingly – with a painting by Merlin, which apparently has just been fitted over the old American Indian. It's a really good joke, honestly; It's a spin on how willing modern America is to shine over the horrors of the past, just to get up to another story.
It is also the key to the film's more universal reading. The mirror room was initially built as a distillation of troops around a racially charged stereotype. Just because it is now apparently about Merlin does not mean that it is no longer built around the darker ideas. You can't just scrub away the darker past by putting a more tasty face on it.
America (okay, it's like 99.9999 percent on white America) likes to pretend it's a country without a nasty story that its self-proclaimed exceptionalism makes it free for too dark. But of course that is not true. The mirror room was built with an American Indian on top of it, because the one who built it could be reasonably sure no one would care if it was offensive. Those who can care are mainly sequestered on reservations or died for generations ago. And you, if you're American, live in the country you live in because they died.
(Sidebar: This can also be a really provided riff on Peele's page on The Shining another horror movie that is occasionally read by some of its hardcore fans through the lens of America & "General's inability to handle genocide lurks in his root system. Peele has been dressing like Shining s Jack Torrance on the press trip …)
Consider now hands all over America. The Movement gave money to hunger – about $ 34 million – but much of it was eaten up by operational fees and left $ 15 million to be donated for the real cause. It's not chump change, but it's a drop in the bucket of the problem of actually trying to fight hunger. Is there anything more American than believing you have solved a problem by creating a gigantic spectacle that performs less than you would think? Again – something dark is covered in something shiny and we celebrate the smooth surface.
Us remember a book I've read recently. The city in the middle of the night the new novel by science fiction writer Charlie Jane Anders meets the protagonist, Sophie, members of a foreign species whose telepathic connections mean that they are essentially  forced to remember everything that ever happened, stretching back into their distant past. Even when a member of the species dies, their memories are conveyed by those who knew them, and these memories become part of the collective consciousness.
Anders not only shows how difficult it could be for those who do not feel at home in the collective but she also strongly contrasts with the long memory of this species with the shortness of humanity. Sophie bears the burdens of decisions made millennia before she was born back on the massive spaceship that brought her ancestors from the earth to this new planet. These ancestors were shaped by the decisions that you and I are doing right now, even though we are shaped by decisions made hundreds of years ago and so on. And many of these decisions are now half-housed dreams.
It's hard to really deal with this, maybe anything but impossible. Really sitting and thinking in all the ways you are a product of human history, flowing through the vast amount of time and space, rather than a person who can take control of their lives and make a difference, then disappear . So we try to shine all this. We made paintings by Merlin, where an Indian's paintings stood, and we smiled and said, "It's better." But the painting is still under the surface. If foreigners Sophie meet in Anders's novel, are doomed to remember, then we are perhaps doomed to forget to pretend we are more powerful than we are, simply because we are alive.
I think this is why both Anders's novel and Us spoke so deeply to me. Trying to escape the past is trying to escape yourself. But to try to escape the past is also deep, deeply human. To make progress, we need to find a way to apologize, forgive, or ignore our own mistakes, to unlock them in an underground basement and hope we don & # 39; I remain bound to them forever. But what a fool is the honor there is.
And this reading of the movie's end, that it was always about the dangers of trying to ignore inconvenient truths when they look right back in you in the mirror, is one that unites any other possible reading of the movie as well. Race, gender, class, trauma – they are all covered by the idea that you can have a good life and be a good person, but still unknowingly cause so many ailments.
Everything to be said: When Jason looks into Adelaide late in this movie, seeing for the first time his mother's true self, he does not understand that she is red or that she is Adelaide or something similar. He is aware that she is, and has always been, both.