Chilean writer and director Sebastián Silva explores social cues amongst a group of thirty-something year old men in his indie comedy drama Tyrel. Unfolding across an alcohol-fuelled weekend, the plot centres around Tyler (Jason Mitchell) who is invited by Johnny (Christopher Abbott) to his friend’s birthday celebrations at an isolated cabin in the Catskill mountains. Being the only black guy in the bunch, Tyler begins to feel increasingly uncomfortable when inhibitions are lost, and the culture gap appears to widen.
The bigger, more lively characters in the crowd serve as the driving force for the debauchery that pushes the narrative forward, and anyone that has been on a trip away in a large group should be able to relate to the dynamic. Shaking and swirling with the rhythm of the revelry, Silva’s ‘party-cam’ tracks Tyler’s every move as he navigates the in-jokes and misjudged humour, attempting to shake off the lazy stereotypes placed upon him. Interestingly, there’s no outright antagonist in the piece, but the nuances in the screenplay makes it quite an uncomfortable but engaging experience.
Silva’s social satire is more subtle than it is shocking, but it is sharply executed nonetheless. Bolstered by the magnetism of the leads, including the ever-charismatic Caleb Landry Jones who threatens to steal every scene he’s in, it’s a rollicking romp laden with sobering smarts and drunken R.E.M. karaoke.