SUNDANCE: Tyrel Directed by Sebastián Silva

Starring Jason Mitchell, Christopher Abbott, Ann Dowd and Michael Cera
SUNDANCE: Tyrel Directed by Sebastián Silva
Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
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Chilean director Sebastián Silva has amassed an impressive body of work that explores the intricacies of human interaction. With Tyrel, he's created something of a horror movie, though all of the thrills take place in micro-interactions between his stars.
 
The film stars Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton) as the almost-titular Tyler, a young black man who agrees to go away for the weekend with his friend Johnny (Christopher Abbott) and a group of strangers when a family emergency results in his apartment being overcrowded with relatives.
 
Tyler is introduced to the crew when he and Johnny run out of gas in upstate New York, a few miles from their destination. They come to the rescue, and he's faced with casual racism from the get-go, particularly from Pete (Caleb Landry Jones, who has carved out a niche for playing racist creeps). As the weekend unfolds with binge-drinking, ramped up testosterone and plenty of questionable racial comments, one begins to wonder what kind of disaster lurks beneath the surface.
 
In a Q&A after its Sundance premiere, Silva explained that he wrote the film in collaboration with the cast, who are his close friends. The cast reads like a hip Hollywood "It" list. Along with Abbott and Jones, its rounded out by Michael Cera and Michael Zegen. That said, there are still plenty of surprises — Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum counters the vacation house's aggressive machismo with some soft subtlety as Dylan.
 
On paper, what happens in Tyrel is relatively straightforward, and the plot leaves little to summarize. By capturing the insecurities and aggression that lurk within the hearts of men, however, it becomes a deeply layered deconstruction of toxic masculinity. (Hidden Content)