Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic, suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns – the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge must navigate the town’s underbelly of betrayal, deceit and violence.
Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov, directed by George Clooney, and starring Matt Damon, julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, Suburbicon is part dark comedy, part satire, part thriller. Do not watch any of the trailers, nor believe any of the marketing hype surrounding this film: the story that is told is more serious than I was expecting (even though there are some moments of laughter), and the real protagonist is Nicky (Noah Jupe), the son of Damon’s character.
The story of Nicky is at the heart of the film: most of the scenes are experienced from his perspective, and he is present in most scenes of the film. An important sub-plot of the film that is being omitted from the marketing is related to racism: a black family has just moved to Suburbicon, and everyone in the town hates their presence because they only mean trouble. There is an escalation of racism against these people, becoming in the end a real-life version of Night of the Living Dead. Of all the people in the movie, only Nicky is kind with them, developing a friendship with the son of the other family. In such a bleak movie where everyone is out for themselves, trying to stay alive by outsmarting each other and using blackmail, only the children come out unscathed: they are the symbol of a brighter future, one where we can all live together without hatred and prejudice.
The film itself is quite enjoyable to watch, mostly thanks to the solid script and direction, that are exquisitely rooted in the 50s, from the soundtrack of Alexandre Desplat, to some of the over-the-top acting of the happy housewives. All the cast is quite good here: Matt Damon delivers a solid performance as the stern and cold patriarch of the family; Julianne Moore is great as his… wife, and Oscar Isaac’s glorified cameo is easily the standout of the film.
As soon as the film ended, part of me was quite let down mainly due to the false advertising that marketed this as a comedy (which it clearly is not), but, the more I think about it, the more I enjoyed it! Like other American films at the festival, you can feel a strong anti-Trump, anti-racism message, showing how idiotic some people’s beliefs can be, and how they ultimately end up destroying their own lives.
Overall, Suburbicon is a good piece of social commentary that blends together the humor and sudden violence of the Coens with the satire and social issues of Clooney. A damn good time, and one that I will probably like more on a rewatch.
Visual Effects: 8
Violence & Gore: 8
Sex & Nudity: 6
Drugs & Profanity: 6.5
Intensity & Horror: 7