Film Review: Suburbicon (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

Suburbicon, 2017

Directed by: George Clooney

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac

 

Suburbicon, a peaceful, all-white neighbourhood in the late-1950’s, is rocked when an African-American family move in and rocked further when a murder happens shortly afterwards. Gardner Lodge’s (Matt Damon, The Departed) wife, Rose (Julianne Moore, Kingsman: The Golden Circle), is murdered by two thieves, and Rose’s twin sister, Margaret (also Julianne Moore, Kingman: The Golden Circle), soon moves in to be a mother-figure to Gardner’s son, Nicky (Noah Jupe), and soon imitating her deceased sister in multiple ways (including her appearance and sleeping with Gardner).

A fine cast delivered with a fine performance, Suburbicon unfortunately doesn’t utilise them with a fine film. It tries balancing an African-American family’s move to their all-white neighbourhood storyline with that of Gardner’s suffering and subsequent actions. Both the stories are largely kept separate (except for Gardner living adjacent to the African-American family), and both of the tones and themes are different: one of racism and one about a murder. I waited throughout the film for them to properly intertwine and the main connection the film made between them wasn’t one that the film should be focusing on. Having these two separate stories also slows down each story; while each nicely progresses along in their journey, ditching the African-American family for a large period while we follow Gardner’s grief, then leaving that for a large period as we listen to news reports of racism slows down the urgency and excitement from each story, and, as a result, the film, at times, is quite boring.

It’s also largely predictable throughout; after Rose is murdered and Margaret moves in with Garnder, it’s clear and obvious what is happening moving forward, and a lot of the major surprises are foreseeable, lessening their impact. But the biggest issue I personally had with Suburbicon was who I was supposed to be rooting for. The African-American family aren’t given much screen time for character development, more just crowds and crowds of people harassing them, so they aren’t really the heroes of the film. And Gardner is suspicious throughout, especially if you can see where the film is going, so that rules him out. The ending sees a hero rise to be rooted for, but it’s so late in the film that it’s not as impactful when it happens.

There are some nice moments in the film, though, so it’s not all bad. As previously mentioned, the acting throughout the film is fine, and Oscar Isaac’s performance is great, for the small amount of time he’s afforded. And the humour added to the film, which seems off considering its two themes aren’t exactly light-hearted, is quite funny. It’s a dark style of comedy, which won’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it where it occurred.

A bit disappointing overall, with a lot more negatives at the end of the film than positives, with the lack of a character to root for, two storylines not necessarily belonging together, especially with the poor final message as a result of the actions, and the lack of shocking surprises despite moments seemingly aimed for just that. It has some nice moments, and fine performances from the entire cast, but not enough to save the overall feeling from the film.

 

Plot: * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¾

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