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THE BROWNS BOARD

Suburbicon review


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Suburbicon
Paramount
R.                  105 min

Spoilers ahead.
Sometimes the anticipation of a trip is more interesting and more fun than the actual destination. Every year I look forward to the latest offering from writing and directing team Joel and Ethan Coen. You’ve probably heard me mention before that I believe they sit at the right hand of Stanley Kubrick. So imagine my disappointment when SUBURBICON finally hits the theaters and I find, to my dismay, that there is a co-writer, producer and director of the film and it’s George Clooney. Don’t get me wrong I think George Clooney is one of the few real movie stars. He has the looks the chops and has proven himself to be a competent director, at least in the past. Unfortunately, at times he allows his alt left political obsession to bleed in to his job as a filmmaker. In my opinion that’s part of the reason SUBURBICON is taking a hit at the box office and in critical consensus. I saw him a couple days ago on one of the morning shows discussing the film but he didn’t mention anything about the story but wanted to preach that the idealistic idea of the late 50s only worked if you are a white male. You know, like him.
As always anything with the Coen Brothers involved will be filled with twists and turns and crazy situations which constantly unfold as the films progress, and this is no exception. So you may want to hold off on reading this. I did absolutely no research on the plot before I saw the film yesterday, and one of the most enjoyable had necessary things about these films is to be surprised at every corner. And they almost always employ a stable of quirky but intense actress to play the roles. And all of these shifts of fate or mesh together brilliantly into a riveting production.
But remember this isn’t solely a Coen Brothers film. It’s a Coen brothers with George Clooney film which is a little bit like a Beatles record featuring Axl Rose singing the lead parts. Or a Woody Allen film co-written with Pauly Shore.  Okay maybe that’s a little extreme but you get the idea.
SUBURBICON the crime story follows the misdeeds and mishaps of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon)who has for some reason gotten in trouble the very dangerous loan shark. He’s also cheating on his invalid wife with his sister-in-law, both played by Julianne Moore, and when the loan sharks enforcers pay a visit the wife ends up dead. This looks like a blessing in disguise for Gardner because he’s free to pursue a relationship with the sister-in-law and the proceeds from the insurance policy should probably get him out of the hole. Win-win right? Not so fast there Spanky.  As it turns out his son Nicky (Noah June) has witnessed the whole thing and while he seems to be controlled for the time being we realize it’s only a matter of time before these criminals decide he’s a liability. 
That leads to a terrible decision, either dad does away with the kid or the loan sharks do away with the kid as well as the new girlfriend. And just to throw gasoline on the flames we have an unscrupulous insurance adjuster (Oscar Isaac) putting the squeeze on the new Mrs. Lodge. 
Apparently this story wasn’t quite enough because an almost equal amount of time is dedicated to the other story of racial insensitivity directed toward a black family who has moved into the Suburban neighborhood. As with most social justice Warriors in the entertainment business Clooney has painted nearly every white person in the film with the same broad brush depicting them as little more than wild animals. He even makes a big point of featuring a Confederate Battle Flag  which is one of the latest  symbols of outrage  to  some folks, but of course this film was set in 1959. There is a slight salvation for this ham-handed treatment but that’s at the end of the film as Nicky and the black family’s son are about the only ones left standing as the smoke begins to clear.
The film really is interesting enough with plenty of intrigued with the crime saga but it never really falls together nor seeing’s as serious as many of the other films by the writer-director team have done. And while all the performances are very good there are no over the top segments as are usually found. Maybe it’s because Clooney went with A-list actors rather than the usual stable of eccentric characters. Anyway, it almost works and probably could have done so really well with just a little bit more focus and a little less sermon.
C+
WSS

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