Introducing you to the newest family-friendly suburb, “Suburbicon”; a place that is perfect for any family (big or small) and many people are willing to travel from afar to be a part of one of the world’s newest developments. The year is 1959.
The film opens up with an African American family moving into their new home. From this, we soon discover another family behind their home with a little boy named Nicky. Nicky soon develops a new friendship with his neighbour.
You might be surprised to hear that Suburbicon is actually a story about these two families, but more so about Nicky’s family. Things set in motion as Nicky’s father, Gardner (Matt Damon), wakes Nicky up one night. Nicky wakes only to discover his family are rattled about a home invasion that started while Nicky was asleep. The results of this home invasion change Nicky’s family forever.
Suburbicon is directed by George Clooney and written with the assistance of Joel & Ethan Coen aka “The Coen Brothers”. I’ve always enjoyed the work that goes into a film when the writers are The Coen Brothers. Many great films have come from them, including Fargo, The Big Lewbowski and Burn After Reading. It should also be noted in this review that ONE of my all-time favourite films (in my current top 10) was also done with involvement with The Coen Brothers; a dark thriller known as “No Country For Old Men”.
The way the trailer was introduced for Suburbicon, it appeared to be a black comedy. Sadly after watching this entire film, I was shocked to realised that I didn’t drop a single bit of laugher. In fact, when it comes to humour in the film, it’s almost as if the audience will be unsure if something is to be treated seriously or as a funny situation. For me personally, the tone of this whole film was far from something to laugh at. Suburbicon displays many serious topics, including death, horrible murders, fraud, violence and racism. Most importantly, this film is about horrible people doing horrible things and we watch each character going through the consequences and final outcomes for their actions. Watching this film on its first day of release, the cinema was well attended, and once again, not one single drop of laughter was found in the air. Even if you can accept the film as not a comedy, many lengthy scenes result with predictable outcomes. One scene in particular annoyed me, which was due to poor camera work. The scene was trying to create suspense and a dark tone by hiding a “certain element” (or character), but the camera accidentally revealed what the scene was going show right at the start of its shot. By the time the “big reveal” happened, accompanied by loud music, it did nothing… Because it was dragging on too long, the movie often felt like it was failing, and impossible for the viewer to accept the story.
While I’ve always enjoyed Matt Damon as an actor, the movie trailer and poster would lead you to believe Matt Damon’s character is the heroic lead of this movie. However, he’s really not a likeable character nor does he feel like the centre of attention. In one particular scene, Matt Damon is giving a great performance, but his reading glasses are so foggy and reflecting the objects around him, leading to the scene becoming more of a distraction instead of something far greater. Not even the supporting cast members of Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac were able to lift this film to a higher score rating (and I love all these actors normally!)
Overall, Suburicon is a jaw-dropping disappointment. A film that delivers nothing new in regards to storytelling or its script, but will also have audiences confused at what type of film the director intended to create and questioning if this is supposed to be a comedy or a drama. I can’t help but feel this was probably a great story on paper, but the overall delivery on screen is rather poor. This is a film that I will struggle to recommend.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden