It’s so easy to make life look perfect from the outside, especially in Suburicon, sadly this film delivered a less than perfect viewing experience and had even less entertainment value. I always find the Coen brother’s films a bit samey. With contrite plot twists and kitch cinematography, and then we see George Clooney throwing his hat in the ring for this film which just feels lack lustre.
I’ll admit, when I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it would be right up my street. It felt that there would be a sufficient amount of dark humour in it to carry off the predictable nature of the plot, sadly I think they used every almost funny moment in the trailer, leaving nothing for the audiences who paid to see the entire movie.
Now, usually when a film if this new out I don’t break down the plot, but I will be on this one, so be aware that there is one huge spoiler in the below, and if you are considering seeing the film and don’t want to know what happens, maybe come back and read this post another time.
1959 and Suburbicon is marketed as the utopian place to live. With its perfectly white neighbourhood, well manicured lawns and well kept houses, there is everything the TV dinner generation and Valium mums need to be happy while their hard working men go out to work in true 50’s style.
The town is then suddenly thrown in to uproar when a coloured family move in to the neighbourhood. A town meeting is held where the residence of Suburbicon show their distain for the families presence and they set up a non violent protest outside the home, which really just consists of men lingering outside of the house at this stage.
As this is happening, the house behind where the coloured family have moved in, live the Lodges. They seem a nice, normal family. Rose Lodge is bound to a wheel chair, and her sister, Margaret (both played by Julianne Moore), is at hand to help out with the care of Nicky (Noah Jupe) Rose’s son. Gardener Lodge (Matt Damon), seems on the outset a bit shifty, but he has a wife in a wheel chair who seems deeply unhappy, so you know, maybe we let him off at this point.
Margaret makes Nicky go and play baseball with the new families boy who is about the same age, and while he doesn’t want to, he dutifully takes his baseball glove and much to the whispers of the men outside the house, the two boys go off to play.
Later than evening, when the boys are in bed, Gardener comes to get Nicky out of bed saying “There are men in the house”. They are put in a situation where the family is threatened, and we d=find out that Rose was but in a wheel chair by Gardener in a car accident. There are two ‘mob’ like men in the house and quite honest.y, they look like they should be bungling idiots, but they tie up the family and knock them all out with chloroform, giving Rose an extra dose so it will kill her. They don’t steal anything from the house. In the next seen we see Nicky waking up from the ordeal, to be told by Margaret and Gardener that is mother is dead.
The three return home, showing more men outside the new families house and then Gardener announces that Margaret will be moving in for a while.
Nicky and the coloured boy form a dubious friendship, and Nicky is given a snake by the boy just before his mother’s funeral. At the funeral we meet Mitch, who is the brother of rose and Margaret. He seems stupid but well meaning, and has an affection for Nicky.
As the film unfolds, it’s ‘revealed’ (if you hadn’t already guessed) that Gardener and Margaret are an item, and that Gardener has paid the ‘mob’ to bump off his wife, and he now owes them money. In a police line up the two men appear and Nicky sees them, but Gardener and Margaret deny that it was them. Nicky tried to contact his uncle Mitch, n]but is stopped. Mean while the non violent protest takes a turn to the men making noise and singing and making noise outside the other home 2r hours a day.
Gardener and marketer start to unravel as their plan doesn’t go as they want, killing an insurance investigator when he finds loop holes in their story, this happens on the same night that the non folding protest turn violent and the angry gang start to beat down and burn the coloured families home.
The ‘mob’ guys know that they are getting stiffed by the Lodges and one of them comes to kill Nicky and Margret, only successfully killing Margaret, when Nicky eventually gets a call in to Mitch who turns up in the nick of time to save Nicky, but then gets killed himself in a tussle with the guy.
Gardener returns after losing the insurance investigators body, and coincidentally getting the other ‘mob’ guy killed as he returns home to find everyone dead except Nicky.
Gardener makes a really poor job of giving Nicky a choice of dying or lying to the police, as he tucks in to a pb&j sandwich that has been laced with pills by the late Margaret, which had been intended for Nicky, and he dies before the boy has to make a choice.
In the light of morning, the coloured family clear up their broken home as Nicky comes out to play with their kid, leaving all the dead bodies in the house and saying nothing.
This film has a a horrendously awkward social commentary of the “Good white” people and the racism that ensues, but the characters of the family who are suffering from this injustice aren’t even really characters, you find nothing out about them and you see very little from their perspective. It gets even more awkward with the story line of the monsters being the “nice” family that lives across the street.
Matt Damon is flatter that a pancake in this role, with little emotional attachment to it, or to anyone around him. Julianne Moore, just looks bedraggled in both roles and waivers between ditsy and malicious which isn’t a great combination.
Even the cinematography isn’t particularly redeemable for this film, when I think of the 1950’s I think of bright colours, Tupperware and an over lay of perfection, bidding the cracks of miserable people, that perfection never really is seen in the faulted characters, fractured storylines.
Even the humour is lacking in this particularly slow burning movie. I found myself an hour in, willing it to end and watched four people walk out the cinema.
Usually I would find something redeeming to say at this point and diplomatically say that this movie was not for me, but others might enjoy it, but on this occasion I really don’t think even die and Clooney/Coen brother enthusiasts will find anything enjoyable about this shallow and ham fisted film.
Save your money and go and see something else.
Think I’m wrong…why not tell me in the comments so I can try and see from your opinion?