Written and Directed by: Ike Barinholtz
Starring: Billy Magnussen, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, John Cho and Nora Dunn
Run Time: 1h 33min
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
3 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
In ‘The Oath,’ actor and comedian, now producer, writer, and director of a feature film, Ike Barinholtz, plays Chris. Chris is the everyman and Barinholtz plays him quite well. ‘The Oath,’ is a movie that needs its audience to connect with the lead in order to have faith in its message so casting was pivotal. The message is political and very powerful but no matter how you lean politically it’s a strong movie for both sides. Through a brutal comedy, you see both sides somewhat shredded and hopefully, everyone comes out on the other side the better for it. I think that’s the central reason the film was made. One blatant and glaring spotlight is directed on the idea that the country is to fall in line with whatever the president says or wants. Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States of America does it even suggest we are to support the president, a person, but instead, the president is to support what he swore AN OATH to protect and that’s the Constitution. The Constitution, in turn, protects the country and her people.
In the film, the president is asking that people sign The Patriot’s Oath. This is an oath of loyalty to him. Not only is he asking, though you are not required to, is giving you a tax deduction if you do sign… and there’s a deadline. The movie centers around this deadline moving closer and closer. The day will be after Thanksgiving… ‘Black Friday.’
Today’s political climate is all over this movie. With midterms fast approaching us and a 2020 presidential campaign looming ever closer, the film is released at the perfect time for reflection… no doubt on purpose.
Chris is very progressive and against The Patriot’s Oath. He is continually educating his wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish), also progressive but not as dynamic as he, that what the government is asking of its citizens is wrong. He’s an angry patriot and his anger increases as he witnesses American citizens grow more hostile toward one another; dividing like at no other point in history. Racists feel free to scream statements at people such as, ‘Get out of my country!’ Arguments and talking points are used to spread lies and fear, much like they are in the news you watch today. Chris believes he’s right and you are wrong which is ultimately the problem… there must be something that brings everyone back together. It can’t be just blind loyalty to only your beliefs.
The family is coming for Thanksgiving to Chris’ house and as tension toward the Oath builds, Chris prays to a God he doesn’t believe in, that he can get through the family visit. The day is here and, unable to let it go since the deadline to sign is tomorrow, Chris asks of his family members to reveal who has signed. At this point, the film digs deeply into the human psyche, and the bonds we develop, more than at any other time. Not only do we see who is with Chris and who is not, but there are a few unwelcomed visitors from the Citizens Protection Unit known as the CPU (think Dept. of Homeland Security) there to strongly suggest to people, in this case, Chris, to sign. This is where the movie goes from being a comedy that forces us to look inward, into something darker. That said, should we be led there so we can see we’re all capable of making mistakes? Anyway, the CPU isn’t there just to ‘ask’ Chris to sign, as all the other family members, even Kai, have done, but to ‘tell’ him to. In a very cryptic way, Barinholtz may be trying to remind us all of what’s important. Family. Friends. Water. Air. Who and what are we without these? Can he continue to fight against what seems to be the popular choice or should people who are signing an oath to a person wake up and see some of his point of view?
Barinholtz is great in this. I’m impressed with his work behind and in front of the camera. Tiffany Haddish brings on the laughs but also gets to show that she’s competent enough to explore a more serious tone for her audience. Nora Dunn and the rest of the cast are exceptional in coloring the landscape that’s been created, rendering you incapable of avoiding the subject yet entertaining you at the same time. Another thing the film does is emphasize how bad things get at a moments notice and how quickly arguments can escalate out of control if cooler heads don’t prevail. See ‘The Oath’ for all the reasons I’ve listed but also look at it this way… it could serve as a warning to you to keep you from bringing up the topic of politics this year during the holidays. It comes out to today so see it as soon as possible.
Movie Website: https://www.theoath.film/