When George Clooney decided to hide his good looks behind a camera, we all thought it was too much to ask that he be as talented a filmmaker as he was an actor, but it turned out he was... The bastard. Some people have all the luck. Clooney had a win with his 2002 debut ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’, and it turned out not to be a fluke when he followed it up with ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ in 2005. Then the cracks began to form. He got too soft, too political, too nostalgic - and now here we are where he’s not “too” anything; he’s not enough.
Beneath the backdrop of idyllic 1950s suburbia, chaos is mounting. While the rest of the town of Suburbicon is occupied violently and abusively taunting the town’s first and (so far) only black family, the home invasion of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon, ‘The Martian’) his wife Rose (Julianne Moore, ‘Still Alice’), sister-in-law Margaret (also Julianne Moore, still ‘Still Alice’) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe, TV’s ‘The Night Manager’) leaves Rose dead, Nicky shaken and scared while Gardner and Margaret are... um, adjusting?
‘Suburbicon’ is what happens when a Coen brothers script (with a little Clooney and Heslov thrown in) and a Clooney vision come together. It’s a tonal mess. This is not the first time the Coens and Clooney have collaborated in glorious, symbiotic projects - i.e. ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ and 'Hail, Caesar!' - but that was as actor and filmmakers. ‘Suburbicon’ is a role change and a different beast. One that has not been tamed. With too many auteur chefs in the kitchen, they kinda cancel each other out and it’s not enough of anyone. It’s not the dark, cutting wit of a true Coen brothers film, nor is it social or smart enough to be a Clooney/Heslov project. It’s essentially two completely different films with different ideas and themes, slapped together and forced to get along.
‘Suburbicon’ is what happens when a Coen brothers script and a Clooney vision come together. It’s a tonal mess.
George and his ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ cinematographer Robert Elswit have once again created a beautiful-looking world to get into, but with not a single likeable character and only Oscar Isaac providing the entertaining goods, it's an hour and 45 minutes of wondering what the point is and what exactly Clooney is trying to say as the film constantly shifts between the two stories.
Look, after the disaster that was ‘Monuments Men’, this was definitely a film heading back into positive territory, but GC seems to have lost his knack.