×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Tyrel’

The lone black guy at a dude-bros’ drunken rural weekend feels very much the odd man out in Sebastián Silva's latest.

Director:
Sebastián Silva
With:
Jason Mitchell, Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Zegen, Phillip Entingen, Roddy Bottom, Max Born, Nicolas Arze, Trust Arancio, Ann Dowd, Reg. E. Cathey.

1 hour 26 minutes

Think “Get Out” without the horror-fantasy element, but with a lot more alcohol consumption, and you’ve got the gist of “Tyrel.” Sebastián Silva’s latest is a discomfiting snapshot of an African-American guest’s awkward weekend among an otherwise all-white bunch of strangers bro-ing it up at a cabin in the Catskills. Not an especially pointed commentary about race or anything else, this lively, unpleasant seriocomedy nonetheless does very well at capturing the queasiness of being alone and uneasy at a party you immediately know you won’t fit into. That’s not a sensation anybody relishes experiencing — on- or off-screen — suggesting limited prospects perhaps more in the realm of the writer-helmer’s “Nasty Baby” and “Magic Magic” than his relative hits “The Maid” and “Crystal Fairy.”

Thirty-ish Tyler (Jason Mitchell from “Mudbound” and “Straight Outta Compton”) needs to get out of the city for a bit, as his girlfriend’s drama-filled family have taken over their apartment for a few days. Ergo he agrees to go along when friend Johnny (Christopher Abbott) invites him to drive upstate and hang out with the latter’s buddies, an all-male crew ostensibly gathering at Nico’s (Nicolas Arze) rural cabin to celebrate the birthday of Pete (Caleb Landry Jones). The energy is immediately over-the-top in a way that everyone else is familiar with, but which Tyler finds off-putting.

These guys have their rituals, which to any outsider might look stupid, because indeed they are: nonsensical competitive “games,” trash-talking, mutual goading that’s essentially harmless but which Tyler doesn’t quite know how to take. Though there are milder personalities here, like token gay guy Dylan (Roddy Bottom), the collective vibe is a little raucous and challenging for a newcomer, with birthday boy Pete the most grating, pushy presence of all. No wonder the only resident Tyler really warms to at first is canine Cosmo, a sweet-natured pit bull.

The first night, our protagonist deals with the abrasive bacchanal by claiming fatigue and retiring to bed early, a move that gets him called out by Johnny for being a spoilsport. The next day, which turns up the volume further with the arrival of additional dudes, Tyler defensively overindulges in booze and alcohol, which somehow only puts him out of step with everyone else again. Though in his inebriated state he does bond with flamboyant latecomer Alan (Michael Cera), things get yea more drunk and disorderly until he flees into the night — a freezing winter night — just to be somewhere, anywhere else.

Nothing terrible happens in “Tyrel,” at least no more terrible than the kind of weekend you hope to forget because of personal behavior you don’t entirely remember anyway, among people you’d probably prefer not to see again. There’s an early portent that hidden racial prejudices will prove the elephant in the room here — one of the dumb “games” embarrassingly forces Tyler to perform a “black accent” — but that doesn’t really turn out to be the case. Tyler’s discomfort is somewhat racially-based, somewhat cultural, but mostly just plain social. These simply aren’t his kind of people, and their fun too often consists of things he can’t remotely relate to, like howling out old REM songs. Even their discussion of religion and politics (it’s the weekend of Trump’s inauguration) is flippant in a way he finds vaguely galling.

Sharply observed but lacking in the probing psychological insights of Silva’s best movies, “Tyrel” is a chamber piece whose rhythms feel entirely natural (it’s shot in cast member Arze’s house), but which doesn’t resonate greatly after the fadeout. The catharsis one normally waits for in this kind of dramatic piece (revolving around the dinner party or wherever inhibitions are dangerously lowered) never arrives. The film feels like an authentic slice of experience, and at the same time it doesn’t say all that much.

Nonetheless, there’s no doubting the expert way that Silva and his collaborators shape this entertaining if often squirm-inducing minor work, from the assured ensemble work by variably pro actors to the easy intimacy of Alexis Zabe’s widescreen lensing.

Film Review: 'Tyrel'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 20, 2017. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production: (International sales: UTA, Los Angeles.) Producers: Max Born, Sebastián Silva, Jacob Wasserman, Gigi Graff, Carlos Zozaya. Executive producer: Nicolas Arze.

Crew: Director, writer: Sebastián Silva. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Alexis Zabe. Editors: Sofia Subercaseaux, Jennifer Lame.

With: Jason Mitchell, Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Zegen, Phillip Entingen, Roddy Bottom, Max Born, Nicolas Arze, Trust Arancio, Ann Dowd, Reg. E. Cathey.

More Film

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Weaves Inclusive

    The Secret Power of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is Inclusion

    In a year that gave us films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” this weekend’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” delivers one more home run for underrepresented groups in media in 2018. An animated film that takes advantage of Sony’s piece of the Marvel pie, “Spider-Verse” not only puts a mixed-race, middle-class teenager in the [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Jeff Bridges to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2019 Golden Globes

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Jeff Bridges will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 76th Golden Globes on Jan. 6, 2019. Bridges has starred in films like “The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart,” “True Grit,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” More Reviews Film Review: 'Nona' Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night' “The [...]

  • Charlotte Rampling Euphoria

    Berlin Film Festival: Charlotte Rampling to Receive Honorary Golden Bear

    Oscar-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, whose career has spanned more than 100 film and television roles, will be honored with a special Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The fest will also pay homage to Rampling by screening a selection of her work, including Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” (2003) [...]

  • The Sisters Brothers

    France's Lumieres Awards Unveil Nominations

    Jacques Audiard’s “The Sisters Brothers” has been nominated for best film and director at the 24th Lumieres Awards, France’s equivalent of the Golden Globes. The Western starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal world-premiered at Venice Film Festival, where it earned Audiard a best director award. More Reviews Film Review: 'Nona' Tallinn Film [...]

  • CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We

    CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We Pictures

    Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed with We Pictures, the production and distribution company founded by Hong Kong-born director and producer Peter Chan Ho-sun. It aims to boost the company’s footprint both in China and abroad. Within China, CAA China will help We Pictures to develop new business partnerships and find new sources of investment [...]

  • Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Receive

    'Carol' Producers Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Be Honored by BAFTA

    Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, the producers of such films as “Carol,” “Their Finest” and the recent “Colette” starring Keira Knightley, will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the BAFTA Film Awards. The prolific pair run Number 9 Films and have a long list of credits. They will pick up their accolade at [...]

  • BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

    Korea Box Office: 'Rhapsody' Reclaims Top Spot, Beats ‘Spider-Verse’

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” reclaimed top place at the South Korean box office, overtaking “Default,” after spending two weekends in second place. The Fox release earned $4.38 million from 554,000 admissions for a total of $61.0 million from 7.94 million admissions. In its seventh weekend of release “Rhapsody” accounted for 27% of the weekend box office. CJ [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content