Famed Hollywood actor and director George Clooney’s new film, Suburbicon, is a surreal, dark and funny production, which is what one would expect from a Coen brothers script.
There are two stories at play here; one, the true tale of the Myers, an African American family who move into the white Suburbicon neighbourhood, and the other, a tale of fraud, deceit and murder. Clooney makes good use of tropes found in films set in suburbia, such as The Stepford Wives and Pleasantville, though there is nothing pleasant about the goings on in this seemingly idyllic town; lurking close beneath the surface is rampant racial hatred and the deadly greed for money.
In the first few opening scenes, racial tensions are rife, as we see the Myers family moving in, with their white neighbours exclaiming, “We don’t want them here”. The Myers boy and Gardner’s (Matt Damon) son, Nicky, (Noah Jupe) are dressed similarly, showing the divide even more. Granted, the Myers are not portrayed with any real depth, as many have argued, but according to Damon and Clooney that is intentional.
Gardner Lodge is the typical 1950s family man, though an evil lurks within his personality, while Julianne Moore plays sisters Margaret and Rose. Suspicions begin to rise as insurance claims are made soon after Rose’s death, particularly by chief investigator Bud Cooper (briefly but thrillingly played by Oscar Isaac). Moore and Damon depict their roles of creepy suburbanites well, but the film lacks the quality that would make it an excellent one, as it fails to offer anything new, but is a rehash of dark fraud comedies that have come and gone in previous years. Although the intricate production detail and theatrical score by Alexandre Desplat contribute to creating an atmosphere of heightened drama and emotion in the viewer, Suburbicon does not offer much else in terms of originality.
The role of Nicky is played particularly well by Jupe, as he portrays an intelligent young child, caught up in the dangerous games of adults. The solely innocent characters seem to be the children, Nicky’s uncle and the Myers, who are just trying to live peaceably with their violent and racist white counterparts; a particularly challenging scene to watch is when Mrs Myers visits the supermarket, only to be told the prices of the items have exponentially increased. These kinds of scenes play out to hold a mirror to today’s society, and show that though a lot has changed, it can sometimes feel that not much has progressed at all.
There are commendable elements to the movie, but the way Clooney attempts to combine serious themes of racism and prejudice with comical ones blurs the film’s objectives, rendering it less intriguing than it sets out to be.
Suburbicon is released nationwide on 24th November 2017.
Watch the trailer for Suburbicon here: