George Clooney returns to behind the camera and the computer as he takes writing and directing duties on this, originally Coen brothers penned, movie.
Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge Of Spies, Unbroken) originally penned Suburbicon but never got round to making it themselves. Then, one day George Clooney (Money Monster, Tomorrowland) comes along and decides to have a bit of a rewrite.
He taps up Grant Heslov (The Monuments Men, The Ides Of March) and together they set about adding bits and, no doubt, taking bits out. Clooney then also decides he’s going to take another stance behind the camera and direct the movie.
What remains is a hodgepodge of story lines, dead-ends, loose ends and senseless strands stuffed in for good measure. Watching all this would be painful at the best of times but it’s made worse by the pace of Suburbicon which is slower than a tortoise first thing in the morning. Carrying another tortoise, through treacle, wearing wellingtons.
The movie opens with a storybook telling us all about Suburbicon. A nice, white-picket fence neighbourhood, purpose built and an idyllic spot to raise your kids. That is of course, if you are a white middle-class family.
So, when an African-American family move in, the local home-owners association are up in arms and begin to do what they can to convince them to move out. Which includes, amongst other things, building a fence around their home and playing instruments outside at all hours.
Meanwhile, the neighbourhood suffers another upheaval when, Matt Damon (The Great Wall, The Martian), his disabled wife Julianna Moore (Kingsman: The Goldman Circle, Still Alice), their kid Noah Jupe (The Night Manager (TV), Wonder) and Moore’s sister, also Julian Moore, house is invaded.
Damon’s wife is killed in the home-invasion but not all is as it seems. Outside, at the neighbours, the community gets violent trying to get them to leave, whilst inside the home, Damon and Moore are up to things, some of which go bump in the night.
On paper, all this sounds like it might make for a great film. Oh no wait, it sounds like two films in one, which it is. But Clooney and Heslov don’t manage to bring the two movies together, not even close.
The African-American family in Suburbicon is a storyline that doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie. It just sits there, springing up occasionally, a backdrop against which everything else is occurring.
Damon and Moore’s story meanwhile, has the potential to be a classic Coen brothers story, but the pacing that Clooney gives it, coupled with the other storylines and threads, leave it a jumbled mess that doesn’t get the screen time it deserves nor needs.
It’s such a shame as the ending is one that all Coen brother’s fans will recognise as comeuppance is paid. But it’s too little, too late and only closes a half the stories that have been opened.
Suburbicon lacks tension, lacks laughs and lacks coherence. It’s a poor use of both Moore and Damon, and Jupe and Gary Basaraba (The Accountant, Charlotte’s Web) as the boy’s uncle.
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