George Clooney’s vision to address racial issues raised in the Coen Brothers original script is an admirable stance from the actor turned director who has a long-standing relationship with the filmmaker’s, but the end result makes for a confusing mess of two different movies that repeal any kind of seamless interweave between the two stories, oil and water springs to mind.
On the one other, The Coen Brothers dark and goofy aesthetic mark a dominant dent on the plot as its main focal point, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his dysfunctional family. On the surface, Gardner is a loving husband to his wheelchair-bound wife (Julianne Moore, who plays a double role as her sister) and father. All is not what it may appear on the surface as Gardner and his wife’s sister, Margaret, who appears to be the perfect family, involve themselves with a chilling insurance scam.
On the other, Clooney delves into the vile world of racist America as a quiet upstanding African American family move into the leafy, predominantly white, Stepford Wives esq, town of Suburbicon in the mid 50’s. Vaguely depicting the violent prejudices from the ignorant and uneducated residents of the town this strand of the plot feels more like an afterthought than a major part of the narrative, the Mayers family is only linked by the budding friendship of the Mayer’s son (Tony Espinosa) and the family next door, The Lodge’s son.
This is where a big opportunity was missed, although the Lodge family are so selfishly involved with their own deceptions, there is still no acknowledgment to what the Mayer’s family, who live next door are going through, not even the mass riotous protest outside their house, where Confederate flags are forced through windows even raises an eyebrow.
Tonally, its dark, laden with twists that come as no surprise and the Coen hallmark humour is prevalent, mostly from Damon’s performance of Gardner, a warped imbecile with quite a nasty, scheming streak running through his core which fades into stupidity when he has to ride a small child’s bicycle as a means of escape. Its only from Oscar Isaac’s small turn as an Insurance Investigator and It’s last third of violent terror as son confronts father does the adapted Coen script shower us with a sparked interest.
A mixture of the racial tones, the murderous plot and the humour makes this a confusing mess of storytelling – If the filmmakers have no clue as to what they want their movie to say how are the audience supposed to respond with nothing but bewilderment and mundane displeasure.
Suburbicon is out in cinemas November 24th