By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Director George Clooney
steps behind the camera with screenwriters Grant Heslov and Joel and Ethan Coen in “Suburbicon,” a comedy set in 1957, that in many ways eerily echoes much of today’s racially and politically charged landscape.
There are two divergent stories at play in “Suburbicon.” One involves the Meyers family, a black married couple (Leith M. Burke (TV’s “The Mick”) and Karimah Westbrook (TV’s “Shameless”) and their young son Andy (Tony Espinosa, “The Birth of a Nation”) who move into this upscale, lily-white neighborhood striking fear into everyone there.
The Meyers aren’t welcomed to Suburbicon with open arms, but are met instead with racist signs, loud chants and rocks hurled at them. It would be easy to dismiss this overt hatred as merely being from a bygone era, but most of us know better.
These “suburbicons” don’t want anyone to upset their perfect lifestyles. But, just how perfect are they?
Well, once you look beyond the well-manicured yards, the happy kids riding their bikes down the pristine streets and the warm greetings from passersby, you realize everything isn’t quite as it seems.
There’s a dark side to this town and it has nothing to do with The Meyers. Rather than focusing on the Meyers, they should really be eyeballing their creepy looking mailman.
Then there’s Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon, “Ocean’s Eight”). He seems like the picture-perfect, clean-cut father. Gardner goes to his white-collar office job every day to provide for his adorable, young son Nicky (an excellent Noah Jupe, “Wonder”), his wheelchair-bound wife Rose (Julianne Moore, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”) and her twin sister Margaret (also played by Moore). Margaret, by the way, “happily” takes care of some of the household duties.
Still, there’s something about Gardner. He always seems to be on edge and uptight.
And we soon see why. One night, a couple of burglars, Ira (Glenn Flesher, TV’s “Billions”) and Louis (Alex Hassell, “The Isle”) break into the Lodge’s house, tie up everyone and kill Rose (Moore) right in front of a horrified Nicky.
Margaret sure is open to taking Rose’s place, but why so fast?
Louis and Ira continue to make Gardner’s and Margaret’s life a living hell. Just when it seems it can’t get any worse for them, it does when insurance claims investigator Bud Cooper (a funny Oscar Isaac, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) comes knocking on their door.
Apparently, those documents Margaret filled out on Rose and submitted to the insurance company set off some “red flags” with Bud. The juicy plot that Gardner and Margaret cooked up to collect a hefty payout from Rose’s death, even has Bud demanding a cut of the fraudulent action.
The Coen brothers sardonic wit isn’t lost among the shifting and dramatic tones of “Suburbicon.”
Clooney, who has previously worked on screen with the Coens, in the movies “O Brother Where Are Thou,” “Burn After Reading” and “Intolerable Cruelty” paints a striking portrait in “Surburbicon” of the hypocrisy and secrets held by those living in this affluent community.
Gardner is far from the loving and supportive husband he claims to be. And Margaret will do anything to ensure their scheme goes according to plan.
But no one sees the bizzaro behavior going on in this little house—except little Nicky--because everyone else is too fixated on driving out the law-abiding black family down the street.
With its spot on 1950s aesthetic, “Suburbicon,” brims with dark humor, subtle and biting social commentary and features impressive star turns from Damon, Westbrook, Moore, Isaac and Jupe.
It’s a different type of Coen brothers movie, but a very good one nonetheless.
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Check Out This Trailer For "SUBURBICON"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.