Tyrel review Jason Mitchell

Year: 2018
Director(s): Sebastian Silva
Writer(s): Sebastian Silva
Region of Origin: US
Rating: n/a
Color, 86 mins

Synopsis: Tyrel, a sole black man, attends an otherwise all-white weekend of drunken bro debauchery on a birthday trip to a cabin in the Catskills. (Source)

Fact: racism has been deeply embedded into our way of life. It’s a subtle dagger that never goes away, and rears its head in the ugliest of ways. Tyrel explores this idea by tackling racism in its most innocuously damning form. In director Sebastian Silva’s latest, it quietly lingers over a weekend of hard partying. Silva creates an unwitting spiritual sequel to Get Out. This time, however, Silva skips the fantasy elements to bring us face-to-face with cold, hard truths. With its single-setting plot and a group of rowdy men, we’re thrust directly in the shoes of a lone black man, progressively singled out by a group of white men whose prejudices bubble to the surface. Star Jason Mitchell also brings a heartbreaking, relatable perspective to a story that’s all too real.

Hoping for a weekend of care-free fun, Tyler (Jason Mitchell) tags along with his friend, Johnny (Christopher Abbott), for a trip to the Catskills. The plan is to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday. Once there, Tyler notices that he’s the only black man amidst a group of affluent white men. While in most cases, this wouldn’t be cause for concern, there’s something a bit off. He can never get on the level with anyone for too long, and a series of encounters lead to Tyler feeling left out. As the party rages on, the more its apparent that he doesn’t belong. 

Wringing a simple yet volatile premise to its core, Silva renders a deeply realistic microcosm that never feels less than real. Assembling a diverse set of men, the film forces us to confront characters who resemble people we’ve all known at one point or another. As Tyler navigates what should be a routine bro-out, we feel the gradual spiral that’s occurring within. Silva’s deft command of both surface and inner tensions creates a dense psychological nightmare fraught with with fragile alliances and unsettling strain. By straying from convenient genre contrivances and keeping things grounded, Silva’s chronicle of microaggresions capture everyday, fleeting moments of hostility that are impossible to pin down or even understand right away. Needless to say, if what we see here doesn’t make us uncomfortable, then it’s already too late. 

Tyrel review Sebastian Silva

At the heart of Silva’s piercing satire, is a slyly affecting performance from Jason Mitchell. As Tyler, Mitchell convincingly draws us into the film’s prickly premise, rendering an everyman walking into an unwitting psychological trap. Mitchell plays things with the utmost nuance and restraint, only to end up amplifying things to deafening level. This guy is a true knockout, carrying the entire film effortlessly and giving its ideas a resonance that haunts. Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, Roddy Bottum and especially Caleb Landry Jones turn in characters whose tiny transgressions are gradually harder to stomach. 

Tyrel’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it offenses call out a stain that’s still as stubborn as ever. Silva’s observational approach may not provide answers that some are craving for, but neither does it have to. What the film does best, is frame its racial questions and through a hyper-precise lens of male bonding and excess. Through and through, Silva’s film brings an empathy to the table and critiques double standards and biases that pervade modern society. From Mitchell’s affecting performance to Silva’s social realism, this thing is a volatile power keg that could explode at any moment. It’s also a powerful cautionary tale, urging us to understand the biases and prejudice that lie below the surface of our actions.