Suburbicon is directed by George Clooney, starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. The film is based on an old Coen brothers script which never got made and their input can definitely be felt throughout, their trademark dark humour is there in spades! But what Clooney’s done is he’s taken this script and combined it with one of his own that he’s been working on for quite some time now. So the film has a lot to do with the 1950’s post-war project, the GI bill which was meant to be there so as to fix you up with a nice home once you’d served your country. It’s that idea of a pristine neighbourhood where all the lawns are cut to perfection and everything you could ever need is right there on your doorstep.
But this idea of a suburban paradise comes crashing down once an African American family move in and the rest of the neighbourhood greet them like they’re from another planet. The film depicts this however in a kind of tongue and cheek manner, it’s pretty much making fun of that bigoted small town mentality. I really enjoyed the set up for this film, it was a social commentary of sorts that still managed to be entertaining and amusing rather than going down the deadly serious route that most films would have gone for. The problem is it doesn’t take long for this story to be completely sidelined by another and the two never really seem to match up.
Next door we have something of a family drama where the house is broken into and one member of the family is actually murdered. However, as the film progresses you start to feel more and more suspicious about it simply being a random crime and then the insurance investigator comes in played by Oscar Isaac. So this plotline begins to take centre stage and granted it is completely and utterly absurd, but I mean just next door to them this poor African American family are being terrorised non-stop. There are crowds of people stood outside their front door in the middle of the night making racist chants, they’re being charged double in the supermarket, there are full-on riots in the streets and I don’t understand how you can just push something like that into the background.
I sat there for most of the film thinking to myself that maybe it would all come together in the end, everything would be made sense of in one beautiful moment. But the end credits came and I was still just as baffled as ever and I don’t think it’s a case of me being stupid and missing the point because the general consensus from most critics at the moment seems to be that these two narratives just don’t mix. And it’s a real shame because when you look at who was involved in the making of this film, there are so many wonderfully talented individuals. I feel like both narratives work well on their own, they just don’t work well together, it leaves you with an anything but a cohesive mess of a film.
Suburbicon does have its moments though and there are some truly brilliant performances in there, with the whole 1950’s picket fence suburb aesthetic being absolutely spot on! If it wasn’t for the messy narrative I think this film could have really been something special rather than being just good. So I wouldn’t suggest making a massive effort to see this film, however, if you’ve got the time and are stuck for something to watch, you could certainly do a lot worse. 7/10