“Suburbicon” is directed by George Clooney, written by Joel and Ethan Coen, and stars Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, and Oscar Isaac. The film is about a 1950s suburb town that struggles with problems of integration, as well as a particular home invasion that leaves a member of its town dead.
I’ve had my hopes up for quite a long time since the trailer of this movie released, as it looked like something that the Coen Brothers could perfect, and the cast involved was excellent. I liked the premise of a 50’s family going into turmoil in a suburban neighborhood, so I came in hoping George Clooney could make this film work from behind the camera, because the pieces seemed to be all there.
The performances are, unsurprisingly, the strong point of the film, but it is who gave the best performances that stunned me. Oscar Isaac is undoubtedly my favorite part of this movie, as he comes into the film late and ignites a spark of life that the movie desperately needed. Isaac is fast-paced, crafty, and delivers his lines excellently, and was a bright point in limited screen time. My other highlight performance came from 12-year-old Noah Jupe, who actually holds a large portion of this film on his shoulders. Amidst a load of Hollywood talent, Jupe shines through with a great youthful performance that shows a lot of subtle struggle and fear very prominently, and it is very effective.
This movie works almost entirely on its concepts, as there are a lot of great ideas from George Clooney and the Coen Brothers, even if they aren’t executed the strongest. Bringing race into this story is a strong idea and something that I liked a lot, as well as everything going on with the main family, and if this movie were given the proper care, these ideas could have made for a screwball drama with a ton of amazing moments.
Concepts only take you so far, however, as the execution in “Suburbicon” is spotty at best. Going back to the race element, on the surface this is a great move and adds a very interesting and powerful dynamic to an otherwise traditional story, but the way Clooney goes about using this element never comes to fruition whatsoever. Instead, the element of race feels like an entirely different movie every time we come back to it, and the two films never mesh into one cohesive story, leaving a whole lot to be desired by the end of the film.
“Suburbicon” being two different movies explains a lot of the problems that the movie deals with, because the tone of this film is brutally all over the place. Should I be taking everything seriously? Is this wacky Coen Brothers dark humor? Are we reaching dark themes or are we just being goofballs? Clooney never nails down what this movie is supposed to be, and what we end up getting is some strange middle film that isn’t fun enough to be a comedy, and not serious enough to hit on its important ideas and creative concepts.
Julianne Moore is one of the best actors alive today, and she gives a pretty fine performance, but she is woefully miscast. The character that she is supposed to be playing does not ever seem to match the performance that Moore is giving, and this made her character confusing at times, but, more often than not, truly disappointing, as I wanted Moore to be the bright spot of the film.
“Suburbicon” features some strong performances, some strong ideas, and has some strong scenes, but is, overall, a brutal disappointment. George Clooney tries to mix two movies into one, but instead can’t successfully handle either, and it causes the entire film to have no sense of tone, and it hurts the Coen Brothers strange style of writing in the process.
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