Suburbicon (3 stars)

Suburbicon

TIFF 2017: Matt Damon is cast against type in George Clooney's tonally uncertain satire

The best laid plans go hysterically awry in Suburbicon, a gleeful skewering of America's dark heart from director George Clooney. Co-author of the script with Grant Heslov and the Coen brothers, Clooney serves up a jarring mixture of pitch black comedy and startling social commentary that is filled with moments both troubling and entertaining but that never quite gels.

Suburbicon is a dream community of white picket fences, friendly neighbours and all modern amenities – it even has a mall. Built in the post-war boom years it is now starting to show the cracks in perfection. It is 1959 and the first black family have dared to claim their share of paradise; their presence is met by waves of hatred. Even the most solid citizens can no longer sleep soundly in their beds at night.

Businessman Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family are attacked by vicious hoodlums. His wife is killed but amidst the expressions of sympathy there is a growing sense that something else is going on. When his late wife's sister Margaret (Julianne Moore) becomes a permanent member of the Lodge household, many suspicions are confirmed.

Almost like a Mad magazine parody of suburban America's guilty little secrets, Suburbicon maintains a jaunty manner even as blood is spilt, lives are lost and violence takes a grip on the neighbourhood. There are many incidents in the past that resonate with events of the present.

Clooney casts Damon and Moore against the grain of their sympathetic screen images and brings out the best from a rogues' gallery of a cast that also includes Oscar Isaac as a dapper insurance investigator. The scene-stealer is a terrific, captivating performance from Noah Jupe as Lodge's young son; one of the few decent souls in an America that is rotten to the core.

Screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival 2017. General release from Fri 24 Nov.

Suburbicon

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 15
  • Directed by: George Clooney
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Noah Jupe
  • UK release: 24 November 2017

1959: in the dream community of Suburbicon, businessman Gardner Lodge (Damon) and his family are attacked in their home and his wife is killed. Then her sister (Moore) moves in, and suspicion is aroused. Jaunty, jarring mix of dark comedy and social commentary which never quite gels, despite a fine cast.

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