Indie Memphis 2018: ‘Tyrel’
The latest film from writer/director Sebastian Silva has been compared frequently, if unjustly to last year’s smash hit Get Out. In all fairness Silva had begun work on his latest film Tyrel long before Jordan Peele’s hit film, and aside from the fact that the film follows a young African American man as a fish out of water the two films are worlds apart (granted both films feature Caleb Landry Jones playing a loose cannon character). This weekend at the Indie Memphis Film Festival Tyrel proved to be one of the most talked about films of the weekend.
With his own residence being taken up by his girlfriend’s family, Tyler joins his friend Johnny for a weekend in the Catskills. Once everyone arrives it becomes clear that Tyler has found himself surrounded by a multitude of white dude-bros who are there to party it up. Being the lone African American in the home leaves Tyler feeling alienated in a social far different from anything he is used to. What follows is a weekend of heavy drinking and uncomfortable situations.
For the majority of the movie audiences are no doubt bracing themselves for the inevitable blow-up. Some scene coming in which the racial tension reaches a boiling point and there is hell to pay. Surprisingly that moment never happens. The film ends with the characters nursing hangovers and taking a final selfie. Many who have seen this movie have complained about this fact, but Silva points out that this is how these situations go down in real life. Rarely are these situations filled with arguments in revelations, but rather things are swept under the rug and the elephant remains in the room. Filmgoers have questioned whether the Chilean born Sebastian Silva is the one who should be telling the story of a black man, but to the filmmakers credit he sought out the advice of his friends and colleagues in the African American community. This led to one scene in the movie, being completely rewritten as character actor Reg E. Cathey, in his final screen role, gave his input as to how a key scene would occur in real life.
While opinions on this movie are bound to vary wildly, Silva has made a movie that is so much more under the surface than one would originally think. While a seemingly simple movie on the outside, Tyrel poses many ideas and thoughts that will cause you to take a step back. Long after the closing credits, this is a movie which you will still be thinking about.