Suburbicon (2017)


Directed by George Clooney
Country: USA

George Clooney’s film noir “Suburbicon”, a weird crossing between “Double Indemnity” and a Shakespeare’s tragedy, holds a grip until a certain point but ultimately fails to deliver. The first film directed by Clooney in three years had everything to succeed if it wasn’t for its predictability and tackiness in the vain attempt to throw in serial crime episodes, racial injustice, and social satire in the same bag without mixing them well first. Not even the magic touch of the Coen Brothers, who took care of the script alongside Clooney and Grant Heslov, avoided a muddled tale that was only timidly sparked by the great cast.

The film was loosely based on a factual case occurred in Levittown, Pennsylvania, 1957, when a black family moved to a hostile ‘white’ neighborhood. Its central character is an unscrupulous man, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), who schemes to kill his wheelchair-bound wife, having her insidious twin sister, Maggie (Julianne Moore), as an accomplice and future partner. The main motive behind such a repulsive plan is to get a large sum of money from the accidental death insurance. Trouble arrives when the two hired thugs that perpetrated the crime start to feel threatened by Gardner's young son, Nicky (Noah Jupe), who could easily identify. The latter, who has no clue why his father is covering them up, is ultimately rescued by uncle Mitch (Gary Basaraba), the one who loves him like his own child, after being enlisted in a military academy.


In parallel, we follow the hardships of Mrs. Mayers (Karimah Westbrook), an African American woman who moved to Suburbicon with her family in hopes of a decent life. Sadly, she only found intolerance coming from the cruel white inhabitants who don’t waste a chance to humiliate her. This description might rouse some curiosity, but, incredible as it may seem, this segment of the film was even feebler than the murder case, which, at least, and with the help of a greedy insurance agent (Oscar Isaac), slightly stirs some tension. Failing to deliver that dark humor that everybody was expecting, Clooney and his associates were also unable to integrate the two stories in the film. It's excused to say that none of them worked well individually either. 

Having the right performers for each role and created the right looks to fill the background, Clooney nothing could have done in terms of direction or tone to ameliorate the written material, which had already been born defective. Hence, the outcome, not putting him into a shame in terms of filmmaking, is utterly unsatisfactory in terms of the message as well as highly inconsistent in the art of entertaining.