Antebellum – 2020

Written and Directed by Gerard Bush, Christopher Rentz
Starring Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe

I really enjoyed Janelle Monáe in The Outsider. She was the best in a great cast. I was really intrigued by the trailer for this film. For the longest time, I thought that this was directed, created, or produced by Jordan Peele. No, he has nothing to do with it. I think this screenshot from the first trailer might have contributed to this belief:

This film has one shot at the time lapse game they play with in the plot. They failed. The twist isn’t close original. The characters on the flip side of the world we see at the beginning are ingratiating to the left in the highest degree. While I shouldn’t tell you more of the plot, the truth is, I don’t really think it is worth mentioning.

The performances in the Antebellum portions of the film are decently drawn. It’s clear that something isn’t right, beyond the horror of plantation life in the time of the Civil War. It’s quite repulsive, what we witness. The degradation of humanity has been and continues to be the worst aspect of our existence.

Once we get to modern day, it’s even more offensive. The world is presented in the wokest sense. Everyone in the world of Veronica Henley is fake, including our protagonist. Her outlook on life borders on arrogantly indignant. This is a character I want to sympathize with. It feels like I need to back up and let her opinions become my truth.

Then we get to meet her friends. One is a blonde namaste workout coach. The other, Sidibe’s Dawn, is hilariously miscast as a relationship coach. It’s almost like they are forcing her to be as obnoxiously vapid as is possible for someone who is capable of deeper thoughts. And the filmmakers think this is deep.

There is a way they could have made a story like this work. Not killing every compelling aspect of the lead character throughout the second act would have been a good start. The rest of the film is a by numbers goof. The two people we are rooting for take the expected hit, then they go through each antagonist with such speed, there is no feeling of payoff.

The end result feels like a blaring, hilarious message streaming across our screen like Kevin Costner at the beginning of Dances With Wolves. Only this time we are only surprised to find out that the movie is almost over and we didn’t like it.

If I believe the message being set forth in this film, I would think the problem has to be with me. I didn’t notice the champaign at the table and sent a mixed drink, but only because the script told me that is what I do.

If that doesn’t make sense. Take it as a warning. This film robs of the senses you should have and replaces them with garbage.

(* out of *****)

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