Sunday, 29 October 2017

Suburbicon (2017)

Sometimes film scripts don't get made into movies for a reason. Suburbicon appears to be one of those times when that should have happened. Supposedly it was written by the Coen brothers after they made Blood Simple in the 80s. A brutal crime satire, the film never got made and they went on to make a series of much better movies. It sat on the shelf until George Clooney, who has struggled to direct a strong picture since Good Night, and Good Luck, decides to tackle it.

What appears good on paper doesn't always turn out so good. Written by the Coen brothers, directed by Oscar winner George Clooney, starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac, Suburbicon has all the hallmarks of a hit if not Oscar bait. But it ends up being the farthest thing from it. It's a mismatch of a movie which doesn't succeed on any of its plots and is generally painful to sit through.

So what went wrong?

Well there are 2 movies here and they don't fit together at all. First is a plot that has little to nothing to do with the main cast. In a darker version of Pleasantville, Suburbicon is a tranquil 50s dream of modern living that doesn't include colored people, until it does and the neighbourhood goes crazy. Then there is the murder plot straight out of Raising Arizona or Fargo but without the comedy.  Both are approached as satire but lack any sense of irony or humour. Instead we just sit, wide eyed, watching horrible things happen with no sense of commentary. We are left far removed from the experiences and the experiences appear to have nothing to do with each other. Nothing feels connected so the film looses its audience somewhere in the middle.

Suburbicon feels like we have seen most of it before done better. It's one of those films where more time appears to be spent on costumes and sets than on developing a compelling story or strong characters. It just lays there the whole time offering us little to reflect on. Instead we just have to take it in, and it is extremely upsetting.

So sometimes things are better left unsaid. and Suburbicon feels like one of those things.

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac
Director: George Clooney
Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen

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