Suburbicon

Sean and I are in Venice for the Venice Film Festival. Last week we saw and loved Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which had us appreciating not only the lushness of the period (circa 1962, I believe), but also Del Toro’s refusal to completely excuse it. The 1950s are often given the nostalgia treatment in movies, coated in a thick gloss of fond memories with a healthy dose of forgetting the grim realities. This is a time period that inspires idiots to spout slogans like Make America Great Again, because that time period was actually quite bad for quite a lot of people. Del Toro’s film included some subtle nods to that fact, but Suburbicon is the movie that blows the lid right off it.

Suburbicon is the name of a town founded on the principles of an idyllic setting with all the conveniences of the city but none of the sordidness. The sprawling neighbourhoods MV5BMjExMjE5MDE4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzU0NTEwMzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1449,1000_AL_are safe, the schools are good, it’s a great place to raise a family. Except if you’re the Meyerses, who just moved in. They’re not welcome (being black and all). They’re apparently the very people all these “nice” white folk have moved away from the cities to avoid. The Meyers don’t do a darn thing to incur the slightest ill will, except have a darker skin tone, but still the wrath of the townspeople is rained down upon them. Determined to force them out, their white neighbours harass them and abuse them and generally make such a ruckus that no one notices the neighbours directly behind them.

In that house, Gardner (Matt Damon), his wife (Julianne Moore), his wife’s sister (also Julianne Moore), and his young son Nicky are being held hostage in a bizarre home invasion that leaves one dead and the whole family shattered. It’s just the beginning of a bloody series of events that get more and more lurid. It’s so suspicious that an investigator (Oscar Isaac) shows up at their door. But everyone else is so busy with their unrequited race war that no attention is being paid to the white family wreaking havoc.

It’s exactly the kind of satire-caper at which the Coen brothers excel. Incompetent criminals seem to be their specialty. Frequent collaborator George Clooney joins not only as a co-writer but as the director. He’s added a layer of social consciousness with deep, resonating roots. Suburbicon is slick and it entertains you to within an inch of your life. The cast is wonderful, and Clooney, being an actor’s director, elicits a startling performance out of Matt Damon, and a sterling one out of young Noah Jupe. This black comedy earned a lot of laughs at our screening – seemingly the darker things got, the more we laughed out of anxiety and relief. But this is a brutal story that rewards people justly for their crimes. At first it may seem like we’re flipping between two different movies – the obvious and the absurd – but upon reflection, I like what Clooney’s done with the juxtaposition.

Suburbicon is a little wild, a little uneven, but a whole lot of fun. It’ll be hitting theatres late October.

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24 thoughts on “Suburbicon

  1. dbmoviesblog

    Very interesting. This may be something I would really enjoy, especially if there is fun in there as well. I don’t think much of George Clooney as a director, but then I remember thinking the same way about Ben Affleck and he produced one of the best films based on real events – “Argo”. It is unbelievable how far this funny trio Damon-Clooney-Affleck went in their careers. I was never a fan, but this is rapidly changing.

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      1. Jay Post author

        That does seem inevitable,doesn’t it?
        Matt and I were just talking about how Matt and George are besties now, and how maybe Ben and Brad (Pitt) got pushed out a bit – weird how they’ve both gone through addiction issues and imploding marriages recently.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mr. Bobinsky

        Time will show. Pitt and Damon are incredibly versatile and talented actors so I can see why they don’t start directing. Ben, on other hand, gets probably most respect, because he was able to convert his so-so acting career (he can be good in some roles, but for me he will never reach the heights Pitt, Clooney and Damon did) into a successful directing career. That must be tough. Same goes for Clooney. An amazing actor with an incredible charisma (I really love this man), but not as versatile as Pitt/Damon…

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well this isn’t a superbly-directed film, there are problems, but it’s quite fun – sometimes tense, then they let you off the hook with a big belly laugh. It was great seeing it with a packed, appreciative audience.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, it’s a script the Coens have had kicking around since the 90s, and Clooney and his writing partner have added their own take to it. It’s not perfect but I thought it was pretty fun!

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  3. Brittani

    This is the first review I’ve read of Suburbicon. I didn’t know the plot until now, only that Clooney was directing. I’ll see it since you said its fun.

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  4. joel watches movies

    I was nervous before I read this… hoping against hope that it was gonna be a good one, cuz it’s got all the ingredients for me: dark humour, Coen brothers, Matt Damon in a non-action movie role. So glad to hear this one’s a success! I’ll be excited to see it. Nice review as always.

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  5. Pingback: TIFF 2017: Bingo! I Got Bingo!, Part 3 | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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