As well as entertaining or informing cinema audiences, filmmakers can use their work as a vehicle for their political agenda. With his sixth feature in the director’s chair, George Clooney presents a satirical attack at modern America through his crime drama Suburbicon. Set in a picket-fenced idealistic neighbourhood during the late fifties, the plot follows businessman Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) who, along with his wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and their young son Nicky (Noah Jupe), appears to live a happy life. The family is rocked when they fall victim to a brutal burglary, which sets off an unlikely chain of events.
An unused Coen brothers script was revived and adapted by Clooney and his frequent collaborator Grant Heslov to bring this project to light, but the narrative seems somewhat jumbled because of this. There’s already Fargo-esque premise mixed with the noir stylings of The Man Who Wasn’t There, and on top of all that, there’s a white privilege angle wedged in as the fictionalised town is presented as a haven for Trump supporters. I can see the vision behind the piece, but it’s not funny or clever enough to make a lasting impact.
Clooney has gathered together his industry friends and tossed the movie together to make a political point, and though I understand what he is trying to do, the final product comes across as slapdash, heavy-handed and lazy. The cast is full of A-listers, but Oscar Isaac is the only saving grace, portraying shady insurance man Bud Cooper who I’d love to see in his own movie. After his performance in Inside Llewyn Davis, we know that he is well suited to the Coen’s oddball brand but in this piece, his character is sorely wasted.
Had it been handled with care, there was an opportunity to use the cinema platform to send a powerful message, but unfortunately Suburbicon falls short of the mark. Instead of delivering a scathing societal statement, we are left with a muddled mess that plays like a poorly judged SNL sketch that goes on far too long.
See the trailer: