16th Jan2019

‘The Oath’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, Nora Dunn, Chris Ellis, Jon Barinholtz, Meredith Hagner, Carrie Brownstein, Jay Duplass, Billy Magnussen, John Cho, Priah Ferguson, Henry Kaufman, Max Greenfield, Jon Lovett, Brian Guest | Written and Directed by Ike Barinholtz


The Oath centers on married couple Chris (Barinholtz) and Kai (Tiffany Haddish) who learn that citizens are being asked to sign a loyalty oath to the President, with a Black Friday deadline. As if the pressure of family gatherings wasn’t enough, the couple’s tense Thanksgiving dinner quickly goes off the rails with a “looming government crisis.” 

The Oath, Ike Barinholtz’ directorial debut, thankfully, is a rather surprising and hilarious under the radar comedy. Creating comedic embellishment out of an incredibly dark and specific pinpointed era reminiscent of our own political turmoil is no easy task. Persuading audiences who bare witness to certain social commentary in real life twenty-four hours a day to sit down and be exposed to over the top political farce has proven to be The Oath’s most divisive aspect. It’s never hard-hitting to a point of unjust nihilism nor cuts too deep to the bone, but undoubtedly the picture itself is embellished to the point of ridiculousness.

Perhaps the meta approach is a step too far in these trying times of political animosity. Although to Barinholtz’ credit it isn’t particularly the core element of the film’s narrative. More so a third party or a secondary flavour behind the events that develop. The primary goal of The Oath is to entertain via humour, and it does so in terrific merit. Tiffany Haddish particularly showcases a far more toned done and relaxed performance to that of what is defining her career at the moment. The result is contextually a terrific balance of opposing character to the likes of Barinholtz’ himself, who takes the mantel of peculiarity. Yet also conceptually allows the actress to put forward a different aspect to her range in performance. Dialling down the eccentrics and focusing on a more reserved character exhibits the talent Haddish has at her fingertips and while it may be a reserved role and not necessarily the one audiences are in droves to seek out it does highlight the ability of talented actress in the making.

Ike Barinholtz’ impresses both in front and behind the camera. The former showcases his skill in delivering quickly witted snaps with poignant delicacy as well as to seamlessly throw himself into leading actor territory and succeeding with little to no friction. The latter also suggests a talented ability to understand screen presence and space with the camera.

The Oath is available on DVD and digital across the US now.


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