We love our family, let there be no doubt about that. But around the holidays, we always keep an extra bottle of pinot noir and a flask of Havana Club 7 Year stashed in our room.
In The Oath, we take the natural tension of having all your family crashing at your house and throwing in an unhealthy dose of political divisions.
This movie is funny and tense. Loving and uncomfortable. An exaggeration of where we are as a country, but not too far out of the realm of possibility. It is a movie everyone 17 and over should see.
The gist of the film is citizens are asked to sign a pledge of loyalty to the country and the President. They have ten months to decide, with pledges due by Black Friday. While it is optional, pressure on fence-sitters, and even those firmly opposed, is strong. Maybe it comes from contentious neighbors or strongly encouraged by employers. Definitely from family members on the opposite side of the political
Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish play Chris and Kai, a married couple with a daughter who are hosting his parents, brother and his new-ish girlfriend, sister and her husband and kids. That’s a tall holiday order under the best of circumstances. Add in a divisive political environment and concerns over how moist the turkey is fade into the background.
Ike Barinholtz, who also wrote and directed the film, said this is a family movie made for this day and age and is not a political film. We’re not having any of it. This is a political film. It’s about how the political environment affected families, but political nonetheless.
Chris finds himself increasingly isolated as more and more people in his close circle sign the pledge for various reasons. The movie tries to spread the blame around for the tense times on everyone. People obsessively watching the news to those sourcing questionable reporting online to the much overused term of “nazi” hurled at everyone who disagrees with you.
Basically, the movie says, we are all to blame and we all have skin in the game. But eventually the movie gets us pulled to one side of the divide.
An investigative force from Homeland Security, with a vague and dubious mission, uses fear to invade people’s homes and ‘discuss’ any issue they want. They eventually visit Chris and things go real bad real fast.
The implied message is this is the inevitable result if we continue down the road we, as a society, are on.
Part of the Problem
You may or may not agree with the message or the ending. But the odds are you know someone who’s “mixed it up” on social media. A friend who’s made a snarky comment when they heard something that offends your moral/political sensibilities. You’ve incessantly watched news and forced coworkers/families/complete strangers to see the latest clip that backs your view.
The first step is admitting you have a problem (or, at a minimum, admitting you are part of the problem). Seeing this reflected back to you from a big screen, or a small screen if you can’t get around to seeing it right now, is the first step to recovery.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
We’re skipping our hidden stash of pinot noir and moving right on to the flask of dark rum.