SUBURBICON (US – 2017)

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for Cinetalk.net

Many people argue that all films should start their career on the big screen.

When sitting in the director’s chair, George Clooney offered us pretty honest work like Good night and Good Luck (2005) or The Ides of March (2011). But if it wasn’t star filled (on and off screen) his latest, Suburbicon, with Matt Damon and Julianne Moore (from an old original screenplay by Ethan and Joel Coen), should be considered a straight to video flick or shall we say ( by 2017’s standards) straight to internet.

Suburbicon, starts as a satire of late 1950’s suburban America. A black family, the Meyers, moving to Suburbicon’s fancy neighborhood, provokes a commotion. Meanwhile, their neighbors, the Lodge family (Damon-Moore) are victims of a  home invasion that hides some sinister scheme. As inquiries about this crime unfold, the Meyers, on their side, most face extreme racial prejudice.

In his attempt to adapt this abandoned screenplay by the Coen Brothers (there must have been a reason for them to bury it), and trying to update it with social comment about today’s America, Clooney shows critical limits in handling such material. The secondary plot, of the African-American family moving into white Suburbicon, installs some sort of suspense that never goes far and certainly doesn’t reach any satisfying resolution as the parallel narratives and various elements stay out of sync for two hours. The naive political attempt at progressive statement sinks as it feels just glued to the mix as a gratuitous and pretentious metaphor. One story could have easily made it without the other. They are not really linked together.

Beside its good production value, this film doesn’t know what it is. A film with no soul. The attempt seems to be one of a black comedy with an added social comment. But the overall tone falls flat in almost every categories, except cinematography and overall Art direction.

Suburbicon is so heavily handled it never creates any thrills, laughs nor meditation.

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