By Cabryl Breotti
Premiere Digitally Nationwide Friday September 18th
Starring: Janelle Monae (Eden/Veronica), Eric Lange (Owner), Jack Huston (Captain Jasper), Jena Malone (Elizabeth), Gabourey Sidibe with Lily Cowles, Tongayi Chirisa and Kiersey Clemons, Marque Richardson
Rating: 4.5 out 5 Popcorns Buckets
“….if you suddenly woke up in a parallel universe… One that is familiar but only in a folklore of past down generational stories. It reveals the true wickedness that your ancestors endured. Your mind is the year 2020 but your body is trapped in a reality of Louisiana 1863. With your freedoms, liberties and happiness cultivated for today at stake……it truly makes you question, what the hell would you do….”
Antebellum is a true psycho twisted thriller from the producers of “Get Out” and “Us” with directing duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz on the forefront. With the given success of previous stated features (from the genius of Jordan Peele), Antebellum tried to duplicate said formula with a terrifying twist on delusions of living in modern times of Black Lives Matter and Make America Great Again.
Our initial glimpse of Monae occurs when she refuses to acknowledge her given name and owner (Lange) brands his property. When you push past the “beauty” of Southern Belles, manicured lawns with pristine flowers, the introduction of 3/5 of humans hits immediately. Within the first 15 minutes, the viewer realizes that death is a necessary consequence for those seeking escape or freedom. A brutal execution by overseer Capt Jasper (Huston) establishes the real tone on this reformer plantation. Speaking without permission and failing to respond (when summoned) are followed with drastic beatings and/or death.
This piece of cinema will make one look at the current climate of our country’s agenda: Highlighted video police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, with the never ending plight of equality (within a racist society) certain scenes will strike accord. (Interesting fact is that Bush+Renz made a conscious effort not to use the N-word at all.)
In the first half of the film we witness Eden (Monae) cultivate her exit strategy by manipulating her door henges, careful floorboard footing and whispering with Eli (Chirisa) and newbie Julia (Clemons). Then with a sound of ringtone, the audience is whisked in the present day of Best Selling Author/Respected Academic Dr Veronica Henley. Her no nonsense approach is displayed with an excellent upstaging of a conservative pundit during a television segment. After that, Easter Eggs of hunting music scores and a weird video interaction with Elizabeth (Malone) sets the tone for whats to come.
Could Antebellum be a movie that creates a real dialogue about white supremacy?
Antebellum really does reach into the realm of America’s racist psyche while continuing with conspiracy layers. This is evident in a restaurant scene (which is a brilliant scene with Gabourey Sidibe’s character leading the charge). Antebellum gives real life to the systemic undertones of racism, classism and unequality thru out the generations. Antebellum will definitely piss you off as it should: but so should the fact the BLM and the continue silence refuses to die.
This movie really does cause one to ask themselves “what are you going to do about it?”