The trailers for Suburbicon (2017) promised a film that resembled many of the Coen’s prior works. While Joel and Ethan didn’t direct this one, they share writing credits with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Clooney, a Coen veteran, was directing – so there was hope that this film could be his take on their style. Unfortunately, Suburbicon is clearly two stories with neither feeling fleshed out in a way that’s satisfying.
Suburbicon isn’t what they were selling…
In fact, a major part of the film missing from the trailers was the African-American family moving into the excessively white community of Suburbicon. The Mayers just want to have a good life, and their son, Andy (Tony Espinosa) befriends Nicky (Noah Jupe) at the insistence of Nicky’s mother, Rose (Julianne Moore). That evening, the Lodge’s house is invaded, and Rose is killed.
The two stories seem to be connected in some way, but it felt extremely forced. Nicky and Andy should be the protagonists, but neither really receive any character development. Gardner (Matt Damon) gets more screentime than most everyone else, but he doesn’t feel like the main character. The flatness of the characters only intensifies the issues with the story. There may have been two solid films in this one had they been developed and created, but instead we get just one weakly, underdeveloped stories.
Oscar Isaac is highly billed and used in the trailer, but he is barely in the film. However, Issac’s scenes with Julianne Moore are among the best in the film. She gives a solid performance, and pulls double duty playing both Rose and her sister Margaret. It is difficult to pinpoint what the highlight of the film is, but it definitely didn’t do much to wow the audience.
The movie promised in the trailer definitely would have been better than what appeared on screen. It happens more often than not, it seems – but it doesn’t lessen the disappointment. Suburbicon earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.