Suburbicon

Year: 2017
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac

Written by Tom Sheffield

George Clooney returns to the director’s chair once again for a trip back to the 1950’s in ‘Suburbicon’, which was written by the Coen Brothers. With Matt Damon and Julianne Moore as the leads, things were looking promising, even though the trailer left me a little confused as to what genre the film was trying to plant itself in.

But were Clooney, Damon, Moore, and the Coens a winning formula? Unfortunately not… The pieces for success were all there, but unfortunately they just didn’t come together for this film.

Suburbicon is a family-centred utopia in which Gardner Lodge (Damon) and his family live. One night, robbers break into Gardner Lodge’s (Damon) home and tie up his wife, Rose (Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore), and his son Nicky (Jupe). The robbers chloroform the family, and when they wake up they learn the devastating news that Rose has died. The story then delves into why the robbers went to the Lodge’s household that night and we learn that appearances can be deceiving.

I’ll keep this relatively spoiler-free for those of you who want to watch the film, but it must be said that I think the trailer actually showed us all the only decent parts of the film, and it also doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the obvious incoming plot twist. It has to be said, Damon, Moore, and Noah Jupe (who plays Damon’s son) are all fantastic in their respective roles, which only increases my disappointment with this film. Jupe in particular gave a very career promising performance, and perhaps my favourite of the film.

The film was marketed as a comedy, and whilst it does have a couple funny moments, it doesn’t contain enough to call itself one, and here-in lies my biggest gripe with the film. I went in expecting a comedy with a darker sense humour with a dash of mystery, and what I watched was, well… none of the above. The film fails to actually nail a genre and I left the cinema genuinely questioning what it was I just watched. The screenplay dips it’s toe into multiple territories, but it never fully submerges itself into one, meaning you’re often left wondering if something was meant to make you laugh, or if a rather obvious reveal was supposed to actually be a surprise.

Another gripe I have with the film revolves around the fact the plot puts focus on the first African-American family that move into Suburbicon, much to the other resident’s dismay. We are frequently shown scenes of the horrors this family suffer at the hands of their racist neighbours, who constantly rally outside of their house to try and force them out of the neighbourhood. This sub-plot doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the film though, and its addition in the film is also a contributing factor as to why I left the cinema confused. I sat there thinking that witnessing the horrible daily struggles this family are put through would lead to some sort of pay off at the end, but there is none and it’s incredibly disappointing. I feel like I might have missed something here? But from the general consensus amongst other reviewers, it appears my thoughts reflect the majority of theirs when it comes to these scenes.

Don’t get me wrong, the film does have its watchable scenes, especially Oscar Isaacs’s brilliant but brief appearance in a couple of them, and I’ll happily admit that my eyes were well and truly glued to the screen for the final couple of scenes. But the poor script and direction really resulted in an underwhelming film that truly did have potential to deliver a dark comedy.

To wrap this review up, I think I’d recommend catching ‘Suburbicon’ in the comfort of your own home when it’s released on DVD or streamable somewhere. It’s an okay watch at best, but with it failing to figure out what kind of film it’s trying to be, it may leave you confused and annoyed.

Tom’s Rating: 3.0/10

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First Trailer For George Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ Released

“Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns …the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.”

Once again, George Clooney is sitting on the opposite side of the camera than we’re used to with his latest directorial effort, ‘Suburbicon’, which he co-wrote with the Coen Brothers. 

Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac star in the promising and bloody first trailer, which sees Damon’s character, Gardener, begin to fight back against mobsters and loan sharks following the murder of his wife. 

You’ll be welcomed to the neighbourhood when ‘Suburbicon’ releases 24th November. 

Written by Tom Sheffield

 

The Oscars 2015: Winners & Losers

What a night! What a long night! From this side of the pond, watching The Academy Awards live was hard work, but ultimately a satisfying and worthwhile experience. The 87th annual awards show was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, but I have a feeling we may have witnessed his swansong appearance as the presenter of the show. Aside from a theatrical, energetic and rather funny opening gambit, Patrick Harris quickly sunk into an apparent depression, barely even cracking a smile (even at his own jokes).

On a positive note, we were treated to some truly great acceptance speeches, from Patricia Arquette’s rousing feminist speech, to Graham Moore’s emotionally charged display, culminating in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s modest show of gratitude. The highlight however, has to be John Legend and Common, with their powerful, moving rendition of their track ‘Glory’, which won the award for Best Song. The performance, swiftly followed by the award, drew tears and a standing ovation from the crowd, with the emotive connotations linking the song to the story of ‘Selma’ and Martin Luther King’s drive for racial equality.

All of the eight nominees in the Best Picture award managed to get their hands on at least one of the little, gold statuettes, but it was ‘Birdman’ who stole the show with wins in the major categories. ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ swept the board for design-oriented categories, whilst ‘Whiplash’ also enjoyed three victories. Richard Linklater will probably be the most disappointed, with many fans taking to social media to vent their anger and disbelief at The Academy’s oversight.

Here’s how the night unfolded:

Lupita Nyongo takes to the stage to present the award for Actor In A Supporting Role. This category was pretty much sewn up weeks ago, by J K Simmons for his role in ‘Whiplash’ and there were no surprises this time.

A quick-fire double for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ as they check in with the awards for Achievement In Costume Design, and Achievement In Hair & Make-Up. A lot of people saying ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ should have took the latter.

Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor present the award for Best Foreign Language Film to Polish flick ‘Ida’. Director Pawel Pawlikowski ignores the get-off-the-stage-now music and completes his rather long acceptance speech.

The award for Best Live Action Short goes to ‘The Phone Call’ whilst Best Documentary Short is given to ‘Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1’. More of those long acceptance speeches.

Sienna Miller and Captain America present the awards in the sound category. Sound Mixing goes to team ‘Whiplash’ and Sound Editing to ‘American Sniper’. I feel Sienna Miller may have rigged the votes on that one.

Last year’s winner of the Supporting Actor award, Jared Leto takes to the stage, head to toe in baby blue, to present the award for Actress In A Supporting Role. Another relatively predictable win as Patricia Arquette takes home the award, for her role in ‘Boyhood.

The award for Achievements In Visual Effects goes to ‘Interstellar’, rightly so. Disney’s ‘Feast’ scoops the award for Animated Short, whilst a stunning Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock present the Oscar for Animated Feature Film to ‘Big Hero 6’.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ makes it a hattrick of wins, taking the award for Achievements In Production Design. Swooping down to grab the award for Cinematography, with a strong indication that more are to follow, ‘Birdman’.

A big win for ‘Whiplash’, taking the award for Achievement In Film Editing, is preceded by the ever-emotional In Memoriam montage. A pair snubbed by The Academy this year, Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo step up to present the award for Documentary Feature to ‘Citizen Four’. This is all soon forgotten as John Legend and Common raise the roof with their performance of ‘Glory’, which takes the award for Best Song soon after. Common poetically describes Selma Bridge, “this bridge was built with hope, welded with compassion and elevated with love for all human beings”. A truly powerful performance and speech which is worth watching.

The last of the relatively minor categories, the award for Best Original Score goes to, you guessed it, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. Screenplay appreciation time, with ‘Birdman’ taking the award for Original Screenplay and ‘The Imitation Game’ writer, Graham Moore, recognised for his Adapted Screenplay.

Time for the big four. Richard Linklater took 12 years to create his epic ‘Boyhood’, but that counts for nothing apparently. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu steals the show again, taking the award for Best Director and claiming to be wearing Michael Keaton’s “tighty whiteys”.

No such surprises in the category of Best Actor In A Leading Role and Best Female In A Leading Role, with Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore picking up the awards we all knew they deserved. Last but by no means least, the big one, the award for Best Picture. Before the big night I had ‘Boyhood’ down to take this one, but as the night went on I think we all realised that it was, of course, going to be ‘Birdman’ and Inarritu who would scoop the number one prize.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes