George Clooney returns to the director’s chair once again for a trip back to the 1950’s in ‘Suburbicon’, which was written by the Coen Brothers. With Matt Damon and Julianne Moore as the leads, things were looking promising, even though the trailer left me a little confused as to what genre the film was trying to plant itself in.
But were Clooney, Damon, Moore, and the Coens a winning formula? Unfortunately not… The pieces for success were all there, but unfortunately they just didn’t come together for this film.
Suburbicon is a family-centred utopia in which Gardner Lodge (Damon) and his family live. One night, robbers break into Gardner Lodge’s (Damon) home and tie up his wife, Rose (Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore), and his son Nicky (Jupe). The robbers chloroform the family, and when they wake up they learn the devastating news that Rose has died. The story then delves into why the robbers went to the Lodge’s household that night and we learn that appearances can be deceiving.
I’ll keep this relatively spoiler-free for those of you who want to watch the film, but it must be said that I think the trailer actually showed us all the only decent parts of the film, and it also doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the obvious incoming plot twist. It has to be said, Damon, Moore, and Noah Jupe (who plays Damon’s son) are all fantastic in their respective roles, which only increases my disappointment with this film. Jupe in particular gave a very career promising performance, and perhaps my favourite of the film.
The film was marketed as a comedy, and whilst it does have a couple funny moments, it doesn’t contain enough to call itself one, and here-in lies my biggest gripe with the film. I went in expecting a comedy with a darker sense humour with a dash of mystery, and what I watched was, well… none of the above. The film fails to actually nail a genre and I left the cinema genuinely questioning what it was I just watched. The screenplay dips it’s toe into multiple territories, but it never fully submerges itself into one, meaning you’re often left wondering if something was meant to make you laugh, or if a rather obvious reveal was supposed to actually be a surprise.
Another gripe I have with the film revolves around the fact the plot puts focus on the first African-American family that move into Suburbicon, much to the other resident’s dismay. We are frequently shown scenes of the horrors this family suffer at the hands of their racist neighbours, who constantly rally outside of their house to try and force them out of the neighbourhood. This sub-plot doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the film though, and its addition in the film is also a contributing factor as to why I left the cinema confused. I sat there thinking that witnessing the horrible daily struggles this family are put through would lead to some sort of pay off at the end, but there is none and it’s incredibly disappointing. I feel like I might have missed something here? But from the general consensus amongst other reviewers, it appears my thoughts reflect the majority of theirs when it comes to these scenes.
Don’t get me wrong, the film does have its watchable scenes, especially Oscar Isaacs’s brilliant but brief appearance in a couple of them, and I’ll happily admit that my eyes were well and truly glued to the screen for the final couple of scenes. But the poor script and direction really resulted in an underwhelming film that truly did have potential to deliver a dark comedy.
To wrap this review up, I think I’d recommend catching ‘Suburbicon’ in the comfort of your own home when it’s released on DVD or streamable somewhere. It’s an okay watch at best, but with it failing to figure out what kind of film it’s trying to be, it may leave you confused and annoyed.
Tom’s Rating: 3.0/10
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac