Hot Take: How can a film with such talent attached be this awful?
At first, I wanted to compare Suburbicon to Pleasantville. There’s something about the way the town of Suburbicon is presented that reminds me of Pleasantville. However, the two films are nothing alike. Actually, the most relevant aspect of the film is the way a bunch of white males (characters and creatives behind the film) minimize both the female and black characters of the film to the point where a second storyline completely marginalizes a black family in the ’50s white suburb being tormented by the citizens of Suburbicon while the other storyline — a man (Matt Damon) uses a break-in to stage the murder of his handicapped wife (Julianne Moore) for the insurance money — takes center stage. From the Coen Brothers and George Clooney, we’ve come to expect more… and better. Suburbicon accomplishes neither and devolves into a brutal watch that you seems to never want to reach its conclusion. While the film is only 105 minutes, it feels much longer and if you find a way to care about any of these characters, please let me know how you did it because damn if I could.
Matt Damon turns in one of his least interesting performances as Gardner Lodge, the husband who has his wife (Moore) killed to carry on an affair with her sister (also played by Moore). Moore’s double duty gives us a rather one dimensional character (or two one dimensional characters, I guess?) whose motives to be complicit in the nefarious plot against her sister are never really explained. Is she jealous of her sister? Is she using Damon’s Gardner for a better life? Something? Anything!?! The main character could be Nicky (Noah Jupe), the Lodge’s son who connects the two plots by playing catch with the young black kid who along with his family moved next to the Lodges and caused more of a stir in the town than a household break-in that resulted in a murder. The black couple that moves into Suburbicon (played by Leith M. Burke and Karimah Westbrook) play such a small role in the film, I was surprised they weren’t identified in the credits as Black Mom and Black Dad.
The most surprising thing about Suburbicon is that it somehow escaped a January release. It’s stunning that Paramount didn’t see the bust they had on their hands with this film. There’s very little reason this film deserves a fall release and the waste of “A” list talent is astonishing. While there have been worse films in 2017, you’ll be hard pressed to find one with more promise when evaluating the talent involved and less on the delivery side than Suburbicon. When you get to the bottom, before you get to Suburbicon, none of the films landing on the bottom are even remotely surprising before you get to Suburbicon. This is the first on the bottom of the list that had some level of expectation and failed to even come close to meeting.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- I Laughed Once
Just once though.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- I Didn’t Laugh All of the Other Times It Tried to Make Me Laugh
And that was frequently.