There are two mad stories within Suburbicon and what’s awful is that one of them is true. In the 50s the Meyers family moved into a “perfect” suburban housing development called Levittown in Pennsylvania, causing a revolt; and the only reason was that they were black. When the postman met Mrs Meyers at the door, he assumed she was the maid, and by the end of that day hundreds of people had signed a petition to get them forced out. The same petition is read out in the film: the community states they aren’t racist, it’s just that black people haven’t been “educated” yet. That’s what George Clooney and Grant Heslov were working on.
Then there’s the Coen brothers story, coming from a script that was sent to Clooney in the 90s; the filmmaking duo chose to ditch it as they wanted to move on from Fargo, however the glamorous director revitalised it, setting it at the time when the Meyers moved in. As the protest rises in Suburbicon, Gardener (Matt Damon) attempts to make changes to his unsatisfying love and professional life; he’s married to wheelchair-bound Rose (Julianne Moore) but is in love with her younger sister Margaret (again Julianne Moore). The gruesome and fun intertwine in Damon’s desperate effort to fulfil his American dream. And all this is shown through the eyes of the couple’s innocent child Nicky (Noah Jupe) whose naivety makes him see the evil in each character and unsee the “difference” between his new neighbours and everyone else.
Suburbicon pinpoints, grotesquely, how it feels to be unjustifieldy ostracised and how it’s actually the diverse the normal. Julienne Moore is splendid at embodying this unsatisfied 1950s housewive and her descent into madness; there’s also a short but show-stopping performance from Oscar Isaac (the Coens thought of Clooney for that, back then) as a meticulous insurance investigator. This picture might have lost some of its original subtlety, it gained George Clooney’s political imprint and general sense of hope.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Suburbicon is released nationwide on 24th November 2017.