Coen Brothers

‘Suburbicon’ Review

Written by the Coen Brothers and Directed by George Clooney, Suburbicon is an entertaining film that makes a few missteps along the way, and doesn’t quite reach its full potential. Set in Middle American suburbia in the late ’50s, Suburbicon plays out like a film-noir satire that lies somewhere between a Hitchcock thriller and the Coens’ own Fargo. Matt Damon plays Gardner Lodge, a bloated, self serving, in-over-his-head banker in a role that feels reminiscent of William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo. Damon is so believable in the role that his performance almost goes unnoticed. Suburbicon begins on a strange scene that is initially puzzling to the audience and I appreciated its slow reveal as the movie unfolded.

Gardner and his sister in-law Margaret (played by Julianne Moore) hatch a half baked scheme to have Gardner’s wife and Margaret’s sister Rose (also played by Julianne Moore) murdered by a couple of low life criminals during a mock home invasion. Moore is fantastic in this film, and plays her dual role as a psychotic 50s housewife to perfection. The master plan seems to be motivated by an insurance policy and an affair between our two leads. The rest of the film follows Lodge and Rose as they try to keep up the charade of grieving the loss of a loved one while attempting to cover their criminal tracks. It doesn’t help their case that the two of them aren’t exactly criminal masterminds (a tried and true Coen brothers archetype) and as the movie plays out they find themselves getting deeper in the cover up.

I enjoyed following the lead characters as they fumbled while trying to maintain composure and continue with everyday life. The film takes an interesting twist when an insurance claim investigator Bud Cooper, played masterfully by Oscar Issac, appears on the scene and raises some questions about the claim’s validity. The scene that features Issac’s character grilling Rose about the insurance claim and her relationship with Gardner Lodge is the film’s defining moment. The mental game of cat and mouse sets the film in motion down a dark road of violence and murder, while at the same time adding some humor to the proceedings. Another bright spot in Suburbicon is the performance of Noah Jupe as Gardner Lodge’s son Nicky. For the majority of the film, Nicky seems like only sane and rational person to be found. Nicky soon discovers what actually happened that fateful night when he lost his mother and I found the way that the story played out between he and his father to be very well done and compelling.

Excellent performances aside, the film makes several missteps and is quick to tie up loose ends with trivial solutions. In one particularly tense point moment, Gardner is being pursued by one of our part-time bad guys (Ira) and the situation is completely swept aside as Ira happens to be hit by a car. While I did enjoy the unpredictability and the frantic pace of the film, it felt like some things weren’t given enough time to develop. There’s a whole second story of an African American family who move in behind the Lodge family and are harassed by local residents. While the relationship between the two family’s sons is endearing, the storyline never connects to our main plot and it seems tacked on in order to add some sort of social commentary. It’s as though the film is split into two separate stories that never make the connection that you’re expecting.

The Verge

As a huge fan of Hitchcock thrillers and the quirkiness of previous Coen Brothers films, Suburbicon is a film that I still enjoyed despite its shortcomings. While it never quite reaches its full potential as a film-noir satire or dark comedy I enjoyed it’s unpredictability. Suburbicon features some excellent performances from some very accomplished actors ,as well as a surprise performance from newcomer Noah Jupe. The fantastic acting and the uncertainty of who you should actually be rooting for are more than enough reason to see this entertaining film.


Charles Rogers

Charliee Rogers is a freelance writer, father of two, and video game player!