Based on a discarded script by Joel and Ethan Coen and directed by frequent collaborator, George Clooney, Suburbicon tells the story of a family man who gets in over his head.
Matt Damon plays the man, Gardner, who along with his wife, played by Julianne Moore and her twin sister (also Moore), gets caught up in a situation not befitting the suburban utopia of Suburbicon.
Based on the trailers and the first few minutes, Suburbicon promises great things. A Coen brothers’ script, a thrilling mystery, Oscar Isaac. It’s a great shame then, that it doesn’t really deliver on anything. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why the Coen’s never made this themselves. The script doesn’t feel complete. There’s some great ideas in there for characters and plot points, but they’re not threaded together. It’s frustratingly tedious because it feels like there’s a great film under there somewhere which just needs to be teased out. The narrative is so poor, and the mystery isn’t a mystery – it’s revealed very early on what is going on which totally diffuses any tension.
It’s tonally odd. It feels like Clooney didn’t really know what he wanted to do with it. It’s like a sandbox film – a collection of scenes that feel like they’re from different genres and different films. It’s so unfocused. Some horrific scenes are played for laughs and fall flat. It’s not ridiculous or surreal enough to be funny nor is it serious enough to be taken seriously.
The characters too, feel two-dimensional. Everyone is fine in the film, as you’d expect from such a fine cast but they’re not given much to do. Like with the rest of the script, the characters are majorly underdeveloped.
In addition to the main storyline, there’s also a bizarre commentary on racism which feels totally out of place and doesn’t in anyway connect (literally or metaphorically) to the main story. I’m honestly not sure why it’s in the film at all. It’s another half-arsed idea. Like Ron Swanson says – Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.
Suburbicon feels like a poor man’s impersonation of a Coen film. The well known quirky sensibilities are hidden in there but the script is so uncharacteristically under-developed. Suburbicon is a poor version of a film we could have had.
A discarded Coen script which probably should have stayed that way.