Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Suburbicon

Suburbicon
Starring:
Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe and Tony Espinosa


Rated: R for violence, language and some sexuality.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 27, 2017 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation

George Clooney gets to direct an old Coen Brothers script which he retools with partner Grant Heslov to diminishing leftover Fargo effect, considering an inveigling advertising scheme. It's based on incidents which occurred in Levittown Pennsylvania.

The director of Leatherheads and The Monuments Men (also a favorite actor of the acclaimed siblings - Hail, Caesar, Burn After Reading) isn't cast here either, having colleague Matt Damon take on a role that he may have inhabited back in the day, even around or after their lesser known Intolerable Cruelty.

Suburbicon isn't nearly as sentient as Get Out was earlier this year in handling dark, topical satire in noir-like fashion which The Coens have done well before in The Man Who Wasn't There and Blood Simple.

The uneven, seemingly audacious tale juxtaposes two threads with one relegated to smaller status (or so it would seem). In the very well-manicured titular development in the 1950s a home invasion with dire ramifications for Matt Damon's Gardner Lodge and sister-in-law Margaret (a dual role for Julianne Moore currently in Wonderstruck who also plays a skittish, unfortunate wheelchair-bound wife).

The other which could have been a primary take-off point is a new upstanding black (the first) in the neighborhood next to the Lodges with the denizens in an increasing frenzy. The opening actually is deceptive though important aspect of the plot which is the set-up for mayhem that would appear in the latter, quite lurid reels.

Clooney stages watchable cinema but not so tautly involving having difficulty in managing the moods put in place that siblings Joel and Ethan probably would have handled more deftly. Or like what has been done with their Fargo on the small-screen in three seasons serving as executive producers for talented creator and writer Noah Hawley. As one famous television executive has indicated the vibe here is often one of anger and may not sit well with many in light of recent events such as Charlottesville, Va.

The model would appear to be Billy Wilder's 1944 Double Indemnity with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck which has been redone in many forms over the years if you recall the likes of Lawrence Kasdan's steamy Body Heat. A potential, pointed and telling offering from Clooney is denied or scammed over when it comes to an insurance secrecy and repugnance.

In spite of a handsome production complements of composer Alexandre Desplat (channeling Bernard Herrmann) and lenser Robert Elswit full-bodied characters often feel like fabrications, especially the ditzy, lusting Moore and pudgy, unbeknownst bespectacled Damon (as in Robert DeNiro's The Good Shepherd). Glenn Fleshler and Michael D. Cohen appear as crooks and catalysts of very noticeable homicidal escalation.

On the other hand, Noah Jupe excels as Lodge boy Nicky aware how something can be more than a tad off while befriend the new neighbors' kid Andy (Tony Espinosa) and providing perspective of the kookiness. And, in the predominantly uninteresting and disappointing "Suburbicon" it's up to American-Guatemalan actor/musician Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) to make it all appear to be worthwhile when possible with more wit than is expected as a dubious insurance claims adjuster.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Gerry Matt Claudette Jennifer Audralee Nina  Avg. 
Suburbicon  B+      C-   C-         D            C 

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