Suburbicon Blu-ray Review
There is an old saying that you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. The same can be said for movies as well. SUBURBICON is a prime example of this. The screenplay was first written around 1982 by the Coen brothers. It bounced around for years and almost got made in the late 90s. George Clooney remembered it when he almost got involved with the project almost 20 yrs ago. So Clooney asked the Coen brothers if he and Grant Heslov could rework it a bit and make it their own. They agreed and what we have here is a monster mash up of competing movies that don’t quite gel together. It is a total mess of a movie that needed more focus and more attention on one story or another. Instead it just falls apart and never quite gets its footing at any point.
We are whisked away to 1959. Suburban committees are now popping up everywhere. Suburbicon is one of the first of its kind. It sprang up in 1947 and a whole area was built upon this utopia. There were schools, shopping markets, their own police department and none of the bustle of the city. There was one more thing. It was lily white. There were no minorities for the eye to see. That is until a black family moves in to destroy the tranquility. You had Mr. Mayers (Leith Burke), Mrs. Mayers (Karimah Westbrook) and their young son Andy (Tony Espinosa). The mailman is so surprised by this occurrence that he almost forgets to give Mrs. Mayers her mail. He then proceeds to ask the neighbors one by one if they have met the new neighbors.
This episode upsets most of the neighbors and they call a meeting to discuss the situation. They clearly want the Mayers out, but they don’t know how to do it. Clooney loosely based the script on an ugly incident in Levittown, Pa where a black couple is harassed and hounded to leave a white community. The police and National Guard had to get involved. Clooney uses real language from a town meeting from that time and also radio and television footage from back then. That is one aspect of the story and the seriousness of the situation really overshadows the main storyline.
That is where the Lodge family comes into play. There is Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon). He has a wife named Rose (Julianne Moore) and a son named Nicky (Noah Lupe). There’s also Rose’s twin sister Margaret (also played by Moore) and their brother Mitch (Gary Basaraba). The Lodge house is broken into and Rose dies after the commotion. The story then shifts into a crime thriller and bad people doing bad things and trying to cover them up. You pretty much know off the bat that something isn’t quite right with the robbery and the aftermath. This is classic Coen brothers territory. But the mustiness of the script shows through in how it doesn’t seem fully formed. I can’t believe that the Coen brothers would have this script so scatter shot and unfocused. I think it is clear that Clooney and Heslov wanted to make a film about the turbulent times we live in with regards to class, race and social status. So the film goes back and forth between crime thriller and racial drama. You also have social satire and dark comedy in this stew. That’s not enough. Clooney even evokes the great “Vertigo” from Alfred Hitchcock in the way that Margaret starts to look like her deceased sister. The whole thing doesn’t work. Everything collides in a maddening night of coincidence and you are left wondering what the heck you just watched.
SUBURBICON is a misfire from George Clooney. He tried to cram in too many storylines in a movie that desperately needed some pruning to make it more coherent.
Video: The colors of the film really stand out. All of the shades are highlighted quite well and pop off the screen.
Audio: The sound was generally good.
Commentary with George Clooney and Grant Heslov: The two men discuss the location, story and the actors involved in the movie. They go into detail on certain scenes and certain looks.
Welcome to Suburbicon (29:30): All manners of the film are discussed. The film is loosely based on something that happened in Levittown, Pa. The houses, locations, cars, wardrobe and time period are all touched upon. The actors sing the praises of Clooney as the director.
The Usual Suspects: Casting (12:49) The casting process is discussed with the all the particulars involved.
Scoring Suburbicon (7:54): The director and composer go over the scoring with various scenes touched upon and the approach they were taking.