George Clooney returns behind the camera to direct Matt Damon and Julianne Moore in this dark crime comedy
George Clooney was originally attached to Suburbicon as an actor, to be directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote the script, in the mid-2000s.
The project never came to pass but years later, George took their storyline and reworked it with his collaborator Grant Heslov and made it his next directorial project.
This time around he tells a story set in a peaceful, all-white suburban community in the 1950s. Nothing bad ever happens in Suburbicon, that's until Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) conspires with his sister-in-law Margaret (Julianne Moore) to have his wife Rose (also Moore) killed in a home invasion plot so they can collect on her life insurance.
They think they've gotten away with it, but Lodge's son Nicky (Noah Jupe) is suspicious, the hitmen won't leave them alone, and insurance investigator Bud (Oscar Isaac) thinks they've filed a fishy claim.
If the film focused solely on his madcap comedy, it would have worked just fine. It is very funny and entertaining, with heightened, tongue-in-cheek performances and wacky set pieces.
However, it regularly switches focus to the Mayers family, the first African-Americans to move to the neighbourhood. Their arrival shakes up Surburbicon and their white neighbours plot to make them leave - from humiliating them in a store to protesting outside their house and ruining their property in an attempt to scare them away.
The film frequently cuts between both stories, which are significantly different in tone, and it becomes very uneven. The decision to combine a serious racial drama with a screwball comedy is bizarre. The stories are good enough to have been separate movies, but it made no sense to throw them together. There was a hope that they would eventually connect later on, but they never did - they are separate entities.
Damon and Moore were suitably unhinged and twisted in a hilarious way and were very entertaining to watch, but the highlights were the adorable Jupe, who is the audience's eyes into the Lodge household, and Isaac, who steals his scenes and injects life and energy into the story when it really needed it.
Clooney seems to have had good intentions with his flick by trying to make it relevant in the current climate instead of just being a shallow screwball comedy, but combining two very different plots was a mistake and does a disservice to them both.
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