What an absolute baffling train wreck of a dumpster fire…
“Suburbicon” follows a mild-mannered father living in a 1959 suburb with his wife and son. After a home invasion leaves his wife dead, things begin to get crazy in the town. Or something like that, the plot of this film is a mess. Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac also star as George Clooney directs.
This film was on a lot of critics’ early Oscar predictions and for good reason. Working off a script by the Coen Brothers, the film has star power and George Clooney has proven he is at least a capable director with “Good Night and Good Luck” and “The Ides of March” but also has a couple misfires like “Leatherheads” and “The Monuments Men.” “Suburbicon” ranks even below those final two, as Clooney is so desperate to create a film that is topical and satirical of modern times that he ends up with a tonal and narratively incoherent.
Right from the first ten minutes it is clear something is wrong here. The film opens with a mailman delivering mail to the new neighbors, who turn out to be a black family in the all-white suburbs. This ends up being a major part of the film yet adds quite literally nothing to the film. As the “plot” progresses, the protests and riots of the neighbors get louder and larger and yet they are completely unrelated to the burglary of Damon’s home.
Apparently this racial commentary was added by Clooney on top of the Coens’ script (which was written 10+ years ago) and it is clearly Clooney trying to make people aware of how woke he is. There are bits and pieces of Coen-esque moments, like Damon riding away from an explosion on a child’s bicycle, but the film as a whole feels awkwardly stitched together. What is the point Clooney was trying to make? That Middle America was prejudice in the 1950s? Thanks, I must’ve slept through 12 years of history class.
The performances are fine enough, no one mails it in, but it just adds to the perplexity of how this film came to be. Noah Jupe plays Damon’s son and is arguably the main character. A bit naïve with how the real world works, Jupe has a few scenes of true emotional nuance, something rarely found elsewhere here.
The real/only standout here is Oscar “I make everything better” Isaac who plays an insurance agent sent to investigate a possible fraud and murder cover-up. He’s charismatic and seems to be the only one here who knows what sort of mess he’s in and embraces the absurdity in his two scenes.
This is one of those bad movies that aren’t painful or frustrating to watch, and I would even say I wasn’t bored for a majority of it. I just stared at the screen with a puzzled look on my face; confused at both the nonsensical plot and how a film with this much talent both in front of and behind the camera could go this wrong.
Critics Rating: 4/10
3 thoughts on “‘Suburbicon’ is a Misfire of Hilarious Proportions”
Enjoyable read but I cannot agree with your conclusions. There are many faults in this twin-plot muddle, but it is also an audacious way to frame the bigger story about conservative white America. I enjoyed it.
Glad you liked it. Like I said, I can see what Clooney was getting at trying to comment on modern red America but it felt so forced in and over-the-top that it turned almost into a parody
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It was a mess. But I still got through it all and found it to be fine. Just a shame considering the talent. Nice review.