Verdict: Stylish black comedy
George Clooney’s black comedy Suburbicon has received some bafflingly negative reviews, appearing almost to punish Clooney for not being the Coen brothers, since its premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
It was the Coens who conceived this story years ago, and their script has now been rewritten by Clooney and his regular collaborator Grant Heslov. They have done a solid job. The film is immensely stylish to look at and entertaining throughout.
Blood on his shirt: Matt Damon in Suburbicon. It also boasts Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, quite a cast
It was the Coens who conceived this story years ago, and their script has now been rewritten by Clooney and his regular collaborator Grant Heslov
It also boasts Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, quite a cast, although stealing their collective thunder is the English child actor Noah Jupe, who played Hugh Laurie’s son in the BBC drama The Night Manager. He is tremendously good here and shining in such illustrious company offers further evidence that he is a talent to watch.
His character, Nicky Lodge, provides a story of murder, greed and bigotry with its moral core. Most of the grown-ups around little Nicky are morally irredeemable, for one reason or another, and that includes his father, Gardner, played by Damon in one of those everyman performances of his.
Gardner has a haircut as neat as his tie-knot, is superficially decent and God-fearing, but has no innate decency at all. Aptly, this everyman lives in everytown, which is just the same: inoffensive on the outside, rotten within.
The Lodges’ home is in Suburbicon, a model community built in 1947 and clearly based on Levittown, the prototype of the neat, purpose-built post-war American suburb. It is now the turn of the Sixties and the town has everything anyone could wish for, except bi-racial harmony.
When a quiet, genteel black family moves in, the middle-class white folk of Suburbicon express their outrage in a petition,