Belfast Telegraph

Suburbicon: Darkly comic caper as empty as its ’50s suburban setting

 

By Damon Smith

A bungled home invasion in a pristine, picket-fenced Fifties American community provides the catalyst for George Clooney's darkly comic crime caper.

Based on a script by Oscar-winning siblings Joel and Ethan Coen, which has been gathering dust on a shelf for more than 30 years and arguably should have stayed there, Suburbicon addresses timely issues of racial politics and family disunity without drawing blood or compelling conclusions.

The two narrative strands of Clooney's film - bigotry and deceit - are awkwardly woven together into a tableau that can't decide whether it wants to satirise society or pass swingeing commentary on the thinly veiled ugliness behind the American dream.

The year is 1957 and family man Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), his wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and their son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are among 60,000 all-white residents of the picture perfect enclave of Suburbicon.

During a visit by Rose's twin sister Margaret (Moore again), the family is surprised by two brutish intruders, Ira Sloan (Glenn Fleshler) and his sidekick Louis (Alex Hassell). Alas, Rose dies from inhaling too much chloroform and the Lodge clan huddles together in a time of grief.

Margaret becomes a surrogate mother to Nicky and dyes her hair blonde to spookily resemble her late sibling. Soon after, life insurance claims investigator Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac) arrives at the front door, armed with uncomfortable questions about Rose's demise.

Meanwhile, the streets of Suburbicon are filled with rage and dissent at the arrival of an African American family.

A predictable tale which oozes period style but lacks suspense and a satisfying pay-off.

Two stars

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