Movie, Reviews

“Suburbicon” a Quirky Murder Mystery

What starts out to be a regular 1950’s retro melodrama becomes a mystery crime drama that should set the audience back on their heels with one surprise after another. Although openly predictable, Suburbicon certainly entertains for the full nearly 2 hours. Much like a 2 hour episode of Fargo, the bungling characters add some dark comedy to the twisted script.

The film takes place in an all-white pristine suburban community where everyone knows each other and mailman Henry (Steve Moore) even acts as the town crier. When he comes across a back family, the Mayers, who have just moved into the neighborhood, he runs to the Mayor with the news.

Left to right: Julianne Moore as Margaret and Matt Damon as Gardner in SUBURBICON, from Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures.

Backed up to the Mayers is the Lodge family homestead and that very afternoon Rose Lodge (Julianne Moore) a cripple in a wheel chair, her son Nickey (Noah Jupe) and her sister Margaret (also played by Julianne Moore) are sitting on the back porch. Noticing the young Mayers boy Andy (Tony Espinosa) playing with a baseball, Margaret tells Nicky to get his ball glove and pay catch with the boy.

Now this of course like all Joel & Ethan Coen’s scripts is a set-up for what’s about to happen next. You see Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) has arrived home after a long day at work and that evening there’s a home invasion at the Lodges by two thugs, Ira (Glenn Fleshler) and Louis (Alex Hassell). They fuss about jewelry, money and anything valuable after tying the family up to the dining room chairs.

Left to right: Noah Jupe as Nicky and Tony Espinosa as Andy Mayers in SUBURBICON, from Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures.

Getting most of what they want, they chloroform everyone at the table, including Rose who dies from asphyxiation. Following Rose’s funeral, Margaret’s husband Mitch (Gary Basaraba) vows to catch the guys that killed her, making sure his favorite (and only) nephew Nickey knows he means business.

Left to right: Julianne Moore as Margaret and Matt Damon as Gardner in SUBURBICON, from Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures.

So there folks is a lot that happens within the first 15 minutes or so of the film. Director George Clooney who has directed several films (and also acted in one of the better Coen Brothers films O Brother, Were Art Thou?) does a good job delivering the film to the big screen. He also wrote some of the screenplay and leaves all the acting to a fine cast.

While you can see the Coen brand throughout the film with a touch of The Ladykillers, Fargo, Barton Fink and others, this one surly can be credited to Clooney for getting the performances needed to pull off the bizarre story. I especially like the performance by Matt Damon as the repressed husband who has brought himself to the edge with his crippled wife not able to provide him his wifely needs. It’s a sad situation he finds himself in loosing that sweet woman, and now he’s now without companionship. Maybe he’ll give his son more time for and expanded relationship.

Oscar Isaac as Bud Cooper in SUBURBICON, from Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures.

As the “lonely” son of a very busy man, Noah Jupe plays Nicky an unhappy kid who finds a friend in his new neighbor Andy. He doesn’t see him as a black boy in an all-white neighborhood and that turns out to be a good thing. Nicky’s also very smart for a young boy and avoids trouble with his dad by agreeing with him, even though he knows his dad may be a little off kilter. A very good performance of a distressed character, he should be noticed for future roles.

Suburbicon has been rated R for violence, language and some sexuality. The violence is sometimes very cruel and brutal, so be aware of this when thinking of bringing immature teens to see the film.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A good film in the vein of the movie Fargo.

Additional Film Information
Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler, Alex Hassell, Gary Basaraba, Oscar Isaac, Jack Conley, Karimah Westbrook, Tony Espinosa, Leith Burke, Steve Moore
Directed by: George Clooney
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen
Genre: Crime, drama, Mystery, with dark Comedy
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexuality
Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com

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