Does Jordan Peele's new film live up to his excellent Get Out and Us? The title hinted at the answer: Well, no.
Expectations were high for this Ben no (or Nope, in its original version). Very tall, even. After all, Jordan Peele quickly established himself as one of the new masters of the seventh art by hitting the bullseye, one after the other, with his Get Out and Us. These two titles are now references in the field of horror, as much for their finesse as for their efficiency in creating situations of pure and hard dread, often without much artifice.
But by delivering today his most ambitious project to date, the American filmmaker demonstrates that his genius is much better served by less extensive films, where the psychological aspect and the acting of the actors take precedence over bombast and elaborate visual effects.
This time, it is on a Californian ranch that he lodges his plot, a place where strange and unexplained phenomena are rife. A horse breeder and his sister will attempt to unravel the mystery of this malevolent presence in the heavens themselves.
Difficult to reveal more without disclosing the detours of the plot that Jordan Peele – true to his habit – has taken great care to silence since the announcement of this project. He continues to weave a dense and hazy mystery throughout the first act of Ben non, offering moviegoers more questions than answers.
Lack of finesse
But if we hooked almost instantly to Get Out and Us, we take much, much longer to adhere to this new proposal. And that's because Ben is sorely lacking in this finesse, this subtlety, which made Jordan Peele famous.
Certainly, we are entitled, in the end, to a commentary on modern obsessions, the thirst for recognition and celebrity that marks our time. But all of this is done in such an unrefined, unoriginal way, that we will not push the reflection further once the credits have arrived.
We also heard several spectators, at the end of the premiere of the film, confessing that they had not understood certain – or even several – elements of Ben no. And we bet that they will not be particularly tempted to afford a second viewing to try to get their questions answered.