Review: Suburbicon (TIFF)

Suburbicon (TIFF)
5 10

PLOT: The seamy underbelly of a 1950’s suburban community is unearthed when a home invasion has deadly consequences for a local dad (Matt Damon), his sister-in-law (Julianne Moore) and son.

REVIEW: I’ll give SUBRBICON this - it made for a great trailer. Working from a Coen Bros., script, the trailer sold this as pretty much one of their movies, or as close to it as you can get without them actually directing, with their favorite leading man, George Clooney, taking the reins. The movie itself, outside of a few inspired moments of manic ultra-violence, is ultimately a messy, unfocused attempt at satire that’s nowhere near as daring as it pretends to be.

While the trailers have focused on the noir aspect, this story is actually juxtaposed with the plight of the first black family to move into this all-white development, with the suburbanites hysterical over the idea of integration. This, in itself, would have probably made for an interesting film, but while the opening would have you believe it would be an important part of the plot, it’s really just used as a convenient setup for the orgy of violence that crops up in the third act, allowing the gruesome killings shown in the preview to happen convincingly without rousing too much suspicion.

As such, it’s a bit sloppy for Clooney, as whenever the racial aspect starts to get interesting he cuts back to the mystery insurance scam part that makes up 80% of the movie’s running time, and is old hat. It’s warmed-over noir, and something that’s been done far better over-and-over since 1944’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY (the Coen’s themselves did a much better neo-noir with THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE).

It’s still a handsomely mounted production, although it’s not as evocative of the fifties era as Clooney’s own GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK was twelve years ago. The Alexandre Desplat score seems deliberately patterned on the work of Bernard Herrmann, but the Alfred Hitchcock comparisons won’t serve the film well, as there’s little to no tension. Matt Damon is well cast as the father, as is Moore in a dual role as his wife and her twin sister, but both play caricatures rather than flesh-and-blood humans. The best parts go to Noah Jupe as the family son, who suspects things are awry right from the unconvincing home invasion (by a pair of crooks played by Glenn Fleshler and Michael D. Cohen), and Oscar Isaac in a juicy cameo as a suspicious insurance claims adjuster.

The Coen Bros script may have come across differently on the page than it does on screen, and maybe it’s Clooney’s too flat style that keeps it from really catching on. Towards the end, when the gruesome bits start to kick in, it finally starts to show a little life, but by then it’s too late to keep SUBURBICON from being anything other than a major disappointment, considering the talent involved.

Source: JoBlo.com



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