In the bosom of Suburbicon, a family-centred, all-white utopia of manicured lawns and friendly locals, a simmering tension is brewing, as the first African-American family moves in the idyllic community, in the hot summer of 1959. However, as the patriarch Gardner Lodge and his family start catching a few disturbing glimpses of the once welcoming neighbourhood's dark underbelly, acts of unprecedented violence paired with a gruesome death will inevitably blemish Suburbicon's picture-perfect facade. Who would have thought that darkness resides even in Paradise?Written by
George Clooney hosted the wrap party December 3, 2016 for the Productions Cast and Crew at The Smokehouse Restaurant in Burbank which his production company is named for and is located across the street from Warner Brothers Studios where the production offices abs stages for the film were located. The host himself narrated for all in attendance a behind the scenes slideshow of the productions activities on set. See more »
Margaret turns off the TV using a Zenith Flash-Matic, the first wireless TV remote control. It was basically a flashlight with a very narrow beam. You aimed it and one of the four corners of the TV console to trigger a function. The TV turns off when she hits the lower right corner. This corner is for the mute volume function, not power off. See more »
[as story book pages are turned]
Welcome to Suburbicon, a town of great wonder and excitement. Founded in 1947, Suburbicon was built with the promise of prosperity for all. And in only 12 short years, it has grown from a few small homes to a living, breathing community with all the conveniences of the big city without all the noise or the traffic. And now, with nearly 60,000 residents, they enjoy their own schools, a fire department, and a police department. There's a shopping mall....
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At the opening of the film, the movie title is shown on the cover of a book describing life in the town, which becomes animated. See more »
In another increasingly frustrating marketing decision, Suburbicon's trailer promises a movie that you aren't going to get. The trailer paints a picture of a darkly comedic tale in this idyllic neighbourhood in the 1950s. To my disappointment, the attempts at comedy are few and far between here and when they come up, they fall embarrassingly flat. The director George Clooney and his team decide to go a different direction which is fine, but it wasn't what moviegoers were sold. Also, with how uncompromisingly bleak and joyless the subject matter is in Suburbicon, a few funny moments pointing out how ridiculous and how grim the situation was would have gone a long way.
Adding on to that dilemma, the trailer gives you a very different version of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and Margaret (Julianne Moore). To avoid spoiling the movie altogether, Lodge isn't the hero of this movie and his problems are self-inflicted. I wouldn't be griping if it was close, but this isn't even in the same realm. This may be the darkest character Matt Damon has ever played and while I made peace with the fact that this was a different story by the half-way point, I can't blame anyone that feels cheated. On the flipside of this, I was happy to be given a smart kid character in Nicky (Noah Jupe). I hate it when movies show kids as idiots, Nicky is traumatized by what happens to Rose (also Julianne Moore) but he's a sharp kid. Despite those around him trying to brainwash him about the death of his mom, he knows what's going on and I found it refreshing that he was the audience avatar in this story and that he was a fleshed-out person.
With Clooney's deserved reputation, Suburbicon assembled an impressive cast. I honestly had a hard time judging Matt Damon and Julianne Moore's performances. It was difficult to separate them from their characters, I will say that they did their job inspiring the raw emotion I felt towards them. They're both pros and neither of them disappointed. Oscar Isaac stole the show as Bud Cooper, his character is slimy but compared to the rest of the Suburbicon residents, you can't blame him for trying to screw them over. Isaac was a much-needed breath of fresh air and I enjoyed his performance a lot. Noah Jupe is strong as Nicky, he's easy to empathise with and through his performance, I was genuinely afraid for Nicky by the 3rd act turn. Alex Hassell and Glenn Flesher are fine, they were a little cartoonish as thugs for my taste, but they were serviceable.
Suburbicon has a lot of ambition, they try to weave in subplots about racism, social standing and how when crisis hits, the mask hiding our real nature is ripped off and what's underneath isn't pleasant. This is a good idea and I always respect when a movie reaches for something more as opposed to just delivering the same old product. The problem is that it takes a real masterstroke to mold big subjects together to create a product that people will enjoy. Suburbicon lacks that light touch, the race relations storyline is topical and it's closer to reality than some will want to admit but it also feels half-baked and only semi-relevant. It's only important as a coverup for Gardner Lodge's misadventures and to give Nicky someone to talk to outside his awful family. The point they try to make about human nature is fair as well, but they do too good of a job and I never bought most of the characters as decent people.
My biggest problem with Suburbicon is that you must wait so long before we finally get to the meat of the story. The first 45 or so minutes of this movie was a slog to get through. The characters were awful people, the message was far from subtle and there was no levity to be found. I was completely ready to write Suburbicon off. I think that part of this issue was there was supposed to be some mystery about Gardner and Margaret's motivations, but I picked up what was going on fast. But to give Suburbicon credit, the wheels do eventually start turning and by the time we hit the climax, I was fully invested. The movie starts to pickup when the cracks start to appear in Gardner's plan and the plot thickens when Bud Cooper shows up. I also have to say I also loved the ending. There was one character in the movie who is so despicable that I was silently praying that he'd get his the entire time and the payoff they go for was perfect. I wouldn't call it a happy ending, but I was extremely satisfied. There isn't any comeuppance for the racist residents of Suburbicon and while that sucks, it's the way it was. I can't fault the movie for showing what was actually happening before major events in the civil rights movement.
I'm glad I stuck with this movie. I don't think it came together but I did get something entertaining out of it. If the marketing hadn't been so misleading, my expectations might have been different, and I wouldn't have been so irritated with the first part of Suburbicon. The movie was heavily panned by critics and I understand why. But there is a good story to share here and I want to credit George Clooney and the screenwriters (Joel and Ethan Coen, Clooney and Grant Heslov) for creating a flawed but interesting movie. I think this is a movie to watch with friends, I regret seeing this alone because I think this is going to get different reactions from different people and I wanted someone to discuss it with after. If you like your suburban drama extra dark, Suburbicon is worth checking out. I don't know if I'll be watching this again anytime soon however
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