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GET IN (2019)
Directed by Olivier Abbou
Written by Olivier Abbou, Aurélien Molas
Starring Adama Niane, Stéphane Caillard, Paul Hamy, Eddy Leduc, Hubert Delattre, Leila Amara, Coline Beal, Carine Bouquillon, Marie Bourin, Christopher Fataki, Charlotte Geiger, François Godart, Jacques Herlin, Matthieu Kacou, Carole Le Sone, Saverio Maligno, Mickaël Sabah
Though the title is a cheap way of getting one’s attention given its similarity to a certain Jordan Peele film, GET IN is actually a strong story in the vein of Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS where a meek man must find it in him to stand up to a world that takes advantage of him.
Paul (Adama Niane) is a school teacher, a husband, a father, and a homeowner. On the surface, it looks like he has it all. But dig a bit deeper and you find out his students don’t respect him, his wife cheated on him, and now, someone has moved into his home and refuses to leave. After his attempts to get the squatters to leave through legal means fail, Paul and his wife Chloe (Stéphane Caillard) have to stay in a mobile home park until the legal matters are taken care of. The park happens to be run by an old flame of Chloe’s named Mickey (Paul Hamy) and he is the opposite of Paul in every way—confident, strong, virile, and aggressive. Mickey and his drunken buddies take Paul under their wing and attempt to make a man out of him, attempting to coerce Paul to use force to take back his home from the squatters. Though it is against his nature, Paul is slowly giving in to his more aggro-side and when no other means seem to be working in his favor, he begins to think blunt force is the only way this matter is going to be resolved.
The inciting moment of GET IN (aka FURIE translated to FURY in English and a much better name for this movie) is a bit far-fetched. Paul and his family are going on vacation for two months, so they sign a contract with the babysitter and her husband to move into the home and take over the bills while they are gone. When Paul and his family return, the squatters simply refuse to leave and tout that the contract means they signed over the house to them. Basically, if this were an American movie, this would be an Air B&B story gone wrong. There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief one must have in order to buy this moment that sprouts the entire story, but I found myself quickly moving on from it and just going with the flow because I realized what this film was all about.
And what it is all about is quite interesting. In STRAW DOGS, a nebbish man is forced to man-up and take control of his life. While I think a film of this sort would be labeled toxically masculine in this modern age, it seems the French don’t mind delving into the subject matter of manhood and how modern man fits into today’s society. In GET IN, the fact that Paul is a black man factors very much into the narrative, as he is confronted by a black student who calls him an Oreo for having a meek demeanor yet black skin. Later, Paul himself has a monolog about expectations he had put on him as a black man attempting to fit into societal expectations that I found to be the most resonant bit of the film. When Paul begins to accept Mickey and his violent ways, he sees them attacking a black man and the identity crisis couldn’t be more world-shattering for Paul as he realizes which side he has chosen in this battle. These are themes that maybe Jordan Peele could get away with in this modern age, but very few other directors would dare to look into because of the racial backlash that would occur from all sides if it were released in America. But the story is not politicized at all here. Paul is not perfect. He’s not completely likable. This isn’t a Hollywood film about struggle. All of the luster is worn off and it feels more real. That’s the main reason I like watching foreign films as they tend to delve into themes that are controversial, complex, and might be seen as downright threatening to the fragile American way of life we live.
GET IN is Paul’s journey trying to understand what it is to be a man. He is one extreme as the small, mild-mannered pushover while Mickey represents the extreme opposite. As he attempts to try to be like Mickey, Paul’s quest is to find that middle ground that is acceptable to society, yet still reinforces his own confidence in the qualities he must have in order to fit the role. Sure there have been plenty of men’s issues dissected in past films, but the current trend seems to shy away from that kind of depthy gaze into the abyss. In the end, which wraps things up in about the most French way possible (you’ll understand that if and when you see GET IN), Paul finds that middle ground but he wouldn’t have arrived there if not for running into Mickey. In many ways, this reflects the path Ed Norton’s character in FIGHT CLUB takes as he identifies with, conflicts with, and eventually accepts Tyler Durden in order to become some kind of masculine whole.
Gender and racial studies aside, GET IN is an electric, yet intricately paced film. Some might find the lead-up to the explosive finale to be tedious, but seeing Paul stumble and bumble his way about his life was absolutely riveting to me. As a man in the modern world, it is necessary to question how far we will go when tapping into the animal within us. GET IN is a wonderful example of that struggle and actor Adama Niane is fascinating to watch go through this personal crisis.
The acting from Paul Hamy is equally fascinating as he is as much a force of nature as Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is in FIGHT CLUB. In the middle is Stephane Caillard who is not so simple herself as she struggles to love a man who she has emasculated and understand the tightrope he is walking between aggressive male and rule-following working man. Add in the racial elements of societal expectations of the black man from both white and black perspectives and you have a story that is ripe with thematic heft and conversation starters for those who aren’t afraid to talk about these types of issues.
The finale of GET IN is violent and traumatic. The level of violence that eventually comes into play is disturbing as it contrasts the level-headed and buttoned-down life Paul leads. But that’s where the power in GET IN resides. The film is one man’s struggle to handle the rage building within. It’s a story that has been told in bold strokes with THE HULK, THE WOLF MAN, and DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE. But handled more intimately in modern films such as FIGHT CLUB, STRAW DOGS, FALLING DOWN, and now GET IN.
This is a heady and art-house form of horror—one that will make you think about yourself and the roles our world forms for us. I don’t know if this is the right time for this kind of film as some may not be able to or want to ask themselves the questions GET IN raises right now and that’s fine. But those who do check out GET IN are in for an introspective, disturbing, and socially relevant journey into the soul of a modern man.