Suburbicon (2017)

Director George Clooney
Written by Joel & Ethan Coen, George Clooney, Grant Heslov.

Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler, Alex Hassell, Gary Basaraba, Jack Conley.

In 1959, a perfect utopian community in the fictional town of Suburbicon, is thrown into chaos when an African American family move in. As tension mounts within the community, one of its members (Damon) has his own issues, dealing with a the aftermath of a robbery break within his home.

Let’s start with the positives of this one. The mise en scene is well done, with the setting of late 1950’s suburbia done exceptionally well. I’ve recently reviewed a similar set film and I found them to be as equally as fine as each other.

There is some great direction from Clooney, who co-wrote the screenplay with long time collaborators the Coen brothers and Heslov. This is the first time Clooney has directed a Coen bros screenplay. Heslov is also a long time collaborator with Clooney, having directed him in several projects, as well as co-written many projects before..

The music score by multiple Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat is practically flawless, and complements every scene. There are moments within the film that are quite dramatic, as well as suspenseful, and the score really builds on these moments.

Where the film falls apart however, and sadly, is the script. It takes quite a while for the story to get going, and by the time all the pieces are in place, there is barely half an hour to go.

It tries to be three things, and fails at them all. It tries to be a suspenseful murder mystery thriller but really fails to execute the landing. The conclusion of the film is both disappointing and depressing. It tries to interject racial commentary into the narrative as well, however not one moment of this arc is even needed and has no impact on the film other than to create ‘Oscarbait’. Thankfully this failed.

There is also some social commentary thrown in with some religious comments made throughout. This has zero to do with anything that transpires within the 104 minute runtime.

I tried so hard to like this, with so many great names attached to it, but it failed in my eyes. As mentioned, the real problem was the script. With four writers, it feels like it was trying to do too much. Less is sometimes more.



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