The Strays Review – A Valuable Excessive Thriller
The Strays, a social commentary thriller from Nathaniel Martello-White, with elements of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and the Prime Video series Them. The story revolves around a mixed-race woman whose meticulously planned upper-class existence as a white woman falls apart when two black people move into her affluent neighborhood.
The Strays (2023) Review and Plot Summary
The Strays begins with Cheryl, the main character, complaining to her sister about her money problems (played by Ashley Madekwe). She works, yet she still needs help from the government to cover her rent. Cheryl, who is dissatisfied with her life, packs a tiny bag, writes a note indicating that she is going to the hair salon, leaves her brick phone behind while her partner rings, and then exits the building.
Then, many years later, we are reintroduced to Cheryl (who is now known as Neve). She now resides in a largely white upper-class community, is wed to insurance agent Ian (Justin Salinger), and holds a position as deputy headmaster at the prestigious private school that both of her teenage children, Mary (Maria Almeida) and Sebastian (Samuel Paul Small), attend.
Apart from her skin tone, everything about Neve screams upper-class white woman, including her accent, the car she drives, the immaculately styled wigs she dons, and the gala she organises to collect money for “unfortunate individuals” in Africa. When we observe her practising her accent in the mirror, it is evident how diligently she strives to fit in.
As two young black people named Marvin (Jorden Myrie) and Abigail (Bukky Bakray) arrive in the village, Neve’s idyllic existence begins to fall apart. When her husband hires Abigail for his insurance company, she is less than thrilled, and when Marvin is offered a job as a janitor at her school, she even considers trying to get him fired.
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The extent of Neve’s paranoia about these two individuals rises to scary proportions; she perceives them everywhere, believes they are trying to get her, and exhibits odd, even violent, outbursts in front of her husband, kids, and friends.
There are many positive aspects of The Strays, despite it not being quite as captivating as Get Out. It’s interesting to see Neve’s breakdown in the first half. Before the big disclosure, the movie purposefully leaves the reasons behind her worry unclear.
She reacted so strongly to Marvin and Abigail’s presence that I began to question if she knew them or if her behaviour was motivated by internalised racism. She may be seen in several shots obsessively clawing her wigs until they are painful, just like the rest of her phoney existence. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time due to a persistent unease in the background.
Negatively, I thought Neve was a really unlikable lead character. Despite Ashley Madekwe’s amazing performance, I didn’t support her at any moment in the film. That’s certainly the idea, but it’s challenging to get emotionally involved in a story when none of the characters appeal to you.
Her two children are merely extensions of herself, while her spouse is a wan presence. Like puppets, they all appear to agree with everything she says. If Martello-White had given these supporting players their own personalities, that would have been excellent.
The social criticism element comes out as a little contrived. There are moving moments, like when Neve’s white buddy remarks that she is “practically one of us”—a sharp reminder that she will never truly belong—practically. Yet after encountering additional black individuals in her neighborhood, Neve begins to have intense breakdowns, almost as if she hasn’t seen a black person since leaving her house in the opening scene.
It’s unlikely that someone living in Britain in the twenty-first century would go several decades without encountering anyone of colour. Her response is so irrational in its extremeness. It’s not always clear whether Marvin’s confrontation with her in the school’s restroom actually occurred or whether she was experiencing a psychotic episode due to the way the incident is acted out.
The remainder of the ensemble, especially Jorden Myrie as Marvin, performed a fantastic job. He exudes wrath flawlessly, and you can’t help but worry that the character might lose control at any moment. The menacing yet innocently young Abigail, played by Bukky Bakray, is great.
Is the 2023 Film the Strays on Netflix Good?
The Strays is a good thriller all around. It presents an engaging story and will keep you guessing till the very end, despite occasionally being annoying and excessive. And the conclusion is as appropriate as they come.
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