Suburbicon is a perplexing film. I left the theatre in a walk of silence, contemplating and soaking in what I'd just watched, unsure as to whether or not I had enjoyed it. It didn't take me too long to realise I didn't. The film feels very much like a Coen Brothers movie, which technically it is as they co-wrote the script along with Clooney and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov, but it also feels like something trying oh-so-very hard to be a Coens Brothers movie. All of the plot elements are in the right space. You have a quirky town with underlying prejudices and secret mafia dealings, and within this town there lives a family. Gardner (Matt Damon) is the man of the house, always in control over every situation, but a home invasion turns his life around when his wife winds up dead. In fact, this event begins to rattle the entire town.
Suburbicon's plot is misstep after misstep, where characters are over-acted caricatures and the plot spirals out of control from beginning to end. Matt Damon's Gardner isn't even the main character, which is sure to delight Jimmy Kimmel, but from a narrative standpoint, it doesn't work. The decision to shift focus over to Nicky is done in an attempt to hide information about the plot to the audience, building up suspense to a shocking reveal, but the reveal happens too soon and far too predictably. You're left squandering around in the outcome, watching the aftereffects of a very uninteresting, contradictory plot. It's certainly quirky, the writers make sure of that, but humour is placed sporadically, often jarring and somewhat out of place, even if it did have a few good laughs up its sleeves.
The cast here is truly great. Clooney has rounded up a fine group of a-grade performers who don't hold back, both for better and worse (Julianne Moore overacts everything, giving her eccentric Kingsman performance a run for its money). Damon is chilling as Gardner, who ultimately winds down a predictable arc, but one that does lead to the occasionally grizzly and shamefully hilarious moment here and there. His performance is offbeat and restraint and it works. Noah Jupe is great as Nicky, but his performance is overshadowed by the uninteresting character he’s forced to work with. None of the characters are likeable, so it's Nicky who you're forced to grapple on to, but he's got less personality than Michael Fassbender in The Snowman.
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