In the bosom of Suburbicon, a family-centred, all-white utopia of manicured lawns and friendly locals, a simmering tension is brewing, as the first African-American family moves in the idyllic community, in the hot summer of 1959. However, as the patriarch Gardner Lodge and his family start catching a few disturbing glimpses of the once welcoming neighbourhood's dark underbelly, acts of unprecedented violence paired with a gruesome death will inevitably blemish Suburbicon's picture-perfect facade. Who would have thought that darkness resides even in Paradise? Written by
I'm all for unique and different when it comes to filmmaking, but when a unique film doesn't do anything to intrigue its audience, aside from a consistent tone and setting, then it's not really all that impressive in the end. Suburbicon is George Clooney's latest attempt at direction, and I feel pretty much the same about this film as I did about many of his other works. A tone, story, and time period is all set up, but the way each of his films play out have seemed to leave a lot to be desired in my opinion. That is once again the case with Suburbicon, being a little too confident in itself when it came to presenting a powerful story. Here is why I think you could probably skip this one in theatres, but the effort put into it may warrant a rental if you're looking for something new to watch.
Gardner's family is tested when a group of men invade his home, killing his wife and leaving only his son and sister-in-law alive. Falling for his wife's sister and becoming a complete psychotic and uncontrollable man, this film quickly spirals out of control into a farce of random occurrences. Throughout the first act of this film, it seems like it's going to be a satire that won't hold anything back in terms of wackiness, but that's very quickly thrown out the window, compensating with many subplots of murder and conspiracy. I found myself taken out of the film when the tone would shift this often, making for a very off-putting viewing experience.
Throughout the majority of this film, you're asked to accept the horrible things that the main characters are doing, or just connect with Gardner's young boy on an emotional level, but he's not quite present enough in my opinion. Not until the third act do you really fin yourself caring about some of the characters, which was too late for me. This movie tries far too hard to be clever, funny, and surprising, that it just comes off as forced more often than not. You will find yourself along for a ride of random events and you won't really know who to root for.
I may seem to be ripping this film apart for being un even, but for throughout all its flaws, there are actually quite a few great aspects, especially the sequence involving an appearance by Oscar Isaac. There is a lengthy scene when secrets are revealed and characters begin to evolve and Oscar Isaac elevated every moment of this portion of the film. Up until that point, there really weren't any characters to grasp onto, but the environment around them, along with the sets and the score, always helped to make the film feel more authentic than what its screenplay was presenting. This may sound confusing, but that's due to the fact that this is a very confusing watch, and I feel that many people will agree with me on that account.
From being written by Joel and Ethan Coen (who's recent track record hasn't really impressed me recently), to being competently directed by George Clooney, to having racial undertones to help give the film depth, to showcasing some great moments of comedy, Suburbicon just feels like a huge missed opportunity, due to the talent involved. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore deliver solid performances here and the score by Alexandre Desplat is definitely what sucked me into this movie, even throughout the moments that annoyed me. In the end, I feel as though the positives slightly outweigh the negatives, so I can generously give it a pass. This is about as average as you can get in terms of having a clever setting and premise, only to never fully deliver on either front. Suburbicon isn't quite worth seeing in theatres, but it may please hardcore fans of the Coen brother's past work.
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