“Suburbicon” is everything it shouldn’t be


courtesy of IMDb

Trevor Tyle, Staff Reporter

George Clooney may be one of Hollywood’s leading men, but the actor-turned-director’s new film “Suburbicon” is a far cry from a great movie.

First and foremost, I should clarify that I didn’t hate “Suburbicon.” In fact, I actually found it relatively entertaining. But to go as far as to say I enjoyed the gory directionlessness of this film would be a bit of a stretch. When the credits started rolling, it was nearly impossible to imagine this film would actually appeal to many moviegoers.

As the title implies, the film takes place in Suburbicon, a fictional town in the 1950s inhabited by a bunch of condescending, delusional racists ignorant to their community’s own blatant imperfections. Within the film’s first minute the new neighbors, a black family, have become the victim of town gossip and public scrutiny. Despite this, racism isn’t even the film’s main conflict nor is the issue of racism even remotely resolved by the film’s conclusion.

The narrative quickly shifts focus to the family of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon). Gardner lives with his wife Rose, and sister-in-law Margaret (both portrayed by Julianne Moore) as well as their son Nicky (Noah Jupe). After a home invasion leaves his disabled wife dead and his son emotionally scarred, Gardner decides to have Margaret come live with the family, the first of the family’s many changes for the worst.

While most of the performances in the film are decent, few are particularly standout. Damon and Moore are both fine in their respective roles, but neither one of them feel even remotely new. Moore can only play so many secretly psycho characters before it gets old, while the questionable intentions of Damon’s leading role feel equally familiar. If you think those are spoilers, don’t watch the trailer—you’ll have the movie figured out before it’s even halfway over.

The real stars of this film are Jupe and Oscar Isaac. The former, only 13-years-old, is fantastic in his portrayal of Nicky—who, to put it simply, is probably the only sane character in this entire film. Isaac plays a quick-witted insurance investigator who both steals the show and sums it up in his brief screen time—”something stinks.”

However, perhaps the largest issue with “Suburbicon” is the nauseating gore that plagues its final act. Whatever the message of the film is becomes distorted by the blood and guts that encapsulate its final 30 minutes, making films like “mother!” and “IT” look like a walk in the park.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned subplot of a black family victimized by the town’s insufferable racism serves as little more than a distraction and scapegoat for the true madness transpiring next door. While it’s poor storytelling on Clooney’s part, it delivers a powerful statement on white supremacy and social injustice, which are themes that have been unfortunately misplaced in this film.

“Suburbicon” shouldn’t be completely dismissed, though. The cinematography is aesthetically pleasing, the film’s score is captivating and the storyline is surprisingly original.

Overall, “Suburbicon” is decent, but nothing more. Despite the film’s undeniable potential, it still falls flat.

Another film wrecked by pointlessly overlapping storylines, unresolved political agendas and merciless gore, “Suburbicon” has what it takes to be a great movie but settles for decency.

Rating: 3/5 stars