It’s not like me to not read up on a film, but for my first Sundance there’s so many that can slip between the cracks. I went into Tyrel not knowing what it would be… and left feeling like this is a film that could be watched in order to learn about authentic dialogue. Perception is at the forefront here, as this movie takes place during a two day all-male gathering for a gentleman named Pete (Caleb Landry Jones).
The friendship between Johnny (Christopher Abbott) and Tyler (Jason Mitchell) is quite normal, while their contentment with one another is established from the get go. Tyler, however, is introduced to the other men with an omitted feeling – Making us wonder if it’s simply because he’s the only minority at this party (with the exception of one Latin American), or for other reasons unbeknownst to us.
Tyrel mimics realism down to the bone. The only way I could truly explain this is with a screenwriting method – start late and get out early. At no time are the reasons and actions of the characters given to us before they need to be. Our job as the audience is to pay attention to the bonds these men share and accept that you won’t know everything about them, because like real life… you normally don’t. All these characters are as fresh to us as they are to Tyler.
The inside jokes, the “uttermost white boy” games, the micro-aggressions, and the handsy actions of the other men make Tyler feel inadequate. I wouldn’t call this film a thriller, and there are actually some great throwaway lines along with humorous moments (many via Michael Cera). But you do in fact wait for the other shoe to drop, feeling involved and nervous for Tyler.
Reason being? Society itself, as well as films having similar situations in years past usually don’t have fairy-tale endings – Or… at the very least… conclusions without some confrontation. The moment in which Tyler answers for his actions after the two days, is one with great intrigue. It feels as if somebody just pinched your skin – Particularly if you’re someone who’s ever felt out of place (Aka everybody).
His answer is straightforward, as he expresses that he doesn’t really know as to why, but how he just feels it. And in that moment, my friends, I found tears gallop my eyes while witnessing this internal struggle overwhelm him. The way he sees himself has been greatly challenged by his environment, as his normally chill & charming self has been bruised by a surge of insecurity and safety.
This film hits on many cylinders involving American culture, race, and brings about the non-masculinity of men… allowing them to be a variation of things. The characters are layered with good and bad traits, but they are not to be feared. Making Tyler’s subtle and genuine portrait of alienation and isolation all the more compelling. Oh and by the way…. the film is named Tyrel, but the character’s name is indeed Tyler. An early symbol on how perspective looms mightily throughout.
By Amanda Nova