Suburbicon


A typical Coen brothers black-comedic opera that, unfortunately, under George Clooney's direction ended up being neither dark nor funny. What Clooney gave us was instead a messy juggling of a pseudo-murder mystery and a socio-political satire that lacked subtlety and finesse; the former being eye-rollingly ridiculous and the latter being narratively incoherent and irrelevant. Clooney even managed to mangle Alexandre Desplat's score with odd musical cues. The film was only saved by the brilliant - and only truly darkly comedic - Julianne Moore, who - yet again - beautifully embodied the persona of a 50s housewife, and also by the brief comedic turn of third-billed Oscar Issac.

Suburbicon, as a film, had nothing new to say. It seemingly wanted to comment on white-privilege, racial discrimination and maybe even political hypocrisy, but none of those messages were coherently translated on to the screen. Throughout the film, a big question mark looms over the whole narrative, begging the question "Why?". Why is this scene necessary? Why is this happening? Why are they so stupid? Why is Clooney doing it this way?

The problem is not that the characters are dumb or that coincidences conveniently deus ex machina everything, but in how the story unfolded. On more capable hands, such contrivances can work brilliantly, see the Coen brothers' own Burn After Reading or Fargo (or even Noah Hawley's terrific TV version). However, Clooney may have been overly ambitious and bit off more than he could chew with trying to make the plot seemingly more current and more political than it should have been.

Matt Damon - known best friend of Clooney - may not have been the best first choice to lead this dark comedy. His performance lacked the subtle maniac oddness that would have elevated the lead character. On the other hand, Moore fiercely embodied that campy madness and she stood out so much more for that role.

Damon and Moore were incompatibly matched, both in terms of oddball craziness and romantic chemistry. The one and a half scene between Moore and Issac, on the other hand, was sizzling and electrifying to watch as they both gleefully chewed - and chewed and chewed - on the scenery.

Young actor Noah Jupe was competent enough - and cute enough - but he was no Jacob Trembly in Room.

Desplat scored the film and, as aforementioned, the score throughout the film was jarring and annoying. And it was only during the end credits can you properly appreciate Desplat. Robert Elswit lensing gave the film an authentic 50/60s vibe but none of the scenes really stood out.

Suburbicon had potential and perhaps if co-writers Clooney and Grant Heslow (also a co-producer) left the Coen brothers' script alone, the outcome might have been tighter, cleaner and less muddled.

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