Directed by: George Clooney
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Produced by: George Clooney and Gran Heslov
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac.
Director George Clooney has collaborated with the Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men) to package together one dark, tasty treat.
This is a story that could only be set in the 50s. A setting I initially found off-putting, the feeling the formula of 50s dark comedy already been done. But I was pleasantly surprised by the clever script and how the 50s attitude was used to create a rising tension and bigotry in the story.
Suburbicon explores the real America; back then, the racism and petty nature of society hiding behind perfect houses, set hair and freshly mown lawns. The idea of a suburb is a new-found way of living – affordable post war housing built outside of the city where families can grow with kids hanging out with the neighbours and everyone’s safe and secure and the same. Until the Mayers move in.
Based on the true events that unfolded in Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957, William and Daisy Meyers became the first African American family to move to the town, only to be subjected to 500 people yelling abuse on their front lawn, complete with the hanging of Confederate flags and a burning cross…
Suburbicon builds on the tension; cracks begin to form in the community, with well-mannered folk becoming increasingly agitated by the presence of the family.
And then, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family, Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are tied up and robbed in their own home – something must be done.
The Lodges are a seemingly normal family with twin sister Margaret visiting often to help Rose who’s wheelchair bound after a vehicle accident.
And I use ‘seemingly’ as the story of the film is the depiction of the family unravelling as the robbers, Louis (Alex Hassell) and Sloan (Glenn Flesher) return to pressure Gardner causing the film to turn in sinister and completely unexpected ways.
It’s a dark film, that clever script and direction using that 50s flavour to show the violence like an old-school detective movie with images of shadows and jagged edges of broken glass instead of blood and guts. The soundtrack also adds to that crime/detective flavour.
But there’s much more here than a cloak and dagger crime story.
The audience is shown life from the way the son, Nicky, sees the world. Like the innocence of childhood is the only normality in the story. And this is beautifully shown in the friendship between Nicky and the Mayers’ son, Andy (Tony Espinosa).
Add the well-balanced pacing where each twist and reveal is shown with dead pan delivery, I couldn’t help but appreciate the timing and cleverness of the story.