Movie Review – Suburbicon

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Movie Review – Suburbicon

Category : Movie Review

Director: George Clooney

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe

Year: 2017

Suburbicon is a combination of Fargo and Pleasantville, two of the best films ever created, so I’m not sure what else fans & critics want from a film that’s both bizarrely violent and vehemently representational of a time period that was far from perfect.  I understand that copying two fine films doesn’t guarantee that your movie will be a hit as well, and beyond that, any artist who borrows too heavily from his contemporaries doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.  But Suburbicon is a clever melding of two genres into something sinister and original, never apologizing for stealing more than a few elements from those who have had success before, but also not failing to be a fascinating story all its own, one whose lack of praise I simply don’t understand.

The Lodge family, from the beautiful city of Suburbicon, is about as neat & tidy as their hometown, but with a few shadows looming over their shoulders.  Suburbicon has its own darkness, which comes on display as a black family moves into the neighborhood and residents come out in numbers to display their racism, isolationism, and general, stupid fear.  But the Lodges are too busy for all that, even though the new Mayers family lives right across the fence, because they have a few problems of their own to deal with.  Mrs. Lodge was involved in a car accident, is now in a wheelchair, and had just died as the result of a home invasion where the entire clan was tied up and knocked out, but where she was the only one to perish.  Mr. Lodge doesn’t seem too broken up about it, and it’s up to young Nicky to unravel the mystery, while the entire town has focused its attention elsewhere and while no one else can be trusted.

I don’t think combining two movies was the problem here, I think that throwing in a bit of High Rise might have been what turned audiences off the most.  That film is wacky in a definite Terry Gilliam way, but without the precision to pull it off, so it ends up missing the mark by a fair margin.  Clooney wrote this script with the Coen Brothers, hence the obvious style, but they decided to add some dystopia to the mix, some bizarre, animalistic, poignant unreality, and I wonder if that’s when audiences checked out.  I understand why, but I didn’t react the same way, and the rest of the movie was good enough to make up for those specific oddities.  Damon was great as the villain, Moore was solid twice over, the kid was much better than kids usually are, and I’m biased because I absolutely adore the guy, but Oscar Isaac stole the show.  The plot is bonkers, there’s plenty of violence, some cutting comedy; I guess I can understand why Suburbicon flopped with audiences, but count me as a critic who was riding just the right wavelength to pick up what this team was throwing down.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆