George Clooney, the Coen Brothers, Julianne Moore and Matt Damon all working together had my curiosity peaked. The level of talent on all fronts had me both optimistic and cautious. From the trailer, it appears that a small town is about to get more than it bargains for. So, did “Suburbicon” deliver on a story of a small town in disarray or can we bypass this film? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
This movie did not know which story it wanted to tell. It almost felt like George Clooney and the Coen Brothers sat down one evening and watched a bunch of movies where multiple stories occur at the same time and coalesce in the third act of the story. Movies like, “Love Actually”, “Four Rooms”, “Sin City” and/or “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Then after watching films like these, they all agreed they wanted to make something similar. And truth be told, they tried. The trailers are misleading because the impression is that Matt Damon’s character is driving the narative and that’s only partially true. We get a lot from Julianne Moore, and Noah Jupe, that is not really indicted in the trailers. We also have a separate storyline dealing with the new black neighbors in the story that felt more metaphorical, than anything else. There was a lot that occurred in this movie and unfortunately because of that the overall delivery suffers.
The acting in this film is at the level we would expect from the caliber of actors on screen. The stories, if separated into smaller films, also were well written but they were not as developed as they could have been if more attention were given to each one. The overall story of Matt Damon’s character felt almost like a Greek tragedy where most everyone dies by the end of the film. However, again, the story needed work and this was a surprise for me considering the Coen brothers are credited as the writers of the movie. By the end of the film we see that the innocent survive except they don’t. The uncle, played by Gary Basaraba, was a fairly decent guy who has an entire scene discussing right and wrong with a priest. He also comes to rescue his nephew and while in this act of heroism is killed. So, we can’t pinpoint exactly why the people are dying. Except that we can, for the most part, because bad people doing bad things are the cause of death. If you’re getting confused than my review is relaying the level of confusion I had watching the story unfold on the big screen.
Overall, this felt like a film that wanted to explore why bad things happen to bad people. At the same time, it felt like a metaphorical social commentary on white people blaming non-whites for their problems. It also felt like the innocent will survive to see another day. It also felt like the message could be that everyone in your life can die but that’s ok as long as your neighbor is cool with playing catch once in awhile. There’s so much in this movie and I wasn’t sure what I watched when I walked out of the theater.
“Suburbicon” is in theaters now. If you enjoy dark, artsy, crime drama’s that look at life through several lenses than this film is perfect for you. If not, I recommend you save your hard earned dollars. This film is a great example of how too many stories can become a convoluted mess, even if each story is adequately written. I wasn’t disappointed in the movie but I was confused and because of that I will recommend you stay home and binge watch “Stranger Things” season 2 or go see “The Foreigner.” There’s plenty of entertaining options that will be more substantial than time spent watching this complicated and baffling story.