SUBURBICON is a Poor Attempt at Coen Bros. Greatness

I am getting much closer to catch up with all my reviews if you were interested haha. I need nine day weeks and things would run much better!! But next off the review rank is SUBURBICON – directed by George Clooney in his first Coen Bros script movie he is not starring in. Matty D, Jules Moore, Oscar Isaac and awesome newcomer Noah Jupe star – what cold go wrong? It’s a recipe for super cinematic success.

SUBURBICON is out now from the folks at Roadshow Films, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 115mins.


Suburbicon Julianne Moore and Matt Damon image
Julianne Moore and Matt Damon



In the bosom of Suburbicon, a family-centred, all-white utopia of manicured lawns and friendly locals, a simmering tension is brewing, as the first African-American family moves in the idyllic community, in the hot summer of 1959. However, as the patriarch Gardner Lodge and his family start catching a few disturbing glimpses of the once welcoming neighbourhood’s dark underbelly, acts of unprecedented violence paired with a gruesome death will inevitably blemish Suburbicon’s picture-perfect facade.


Suburbicon Julianne Moore, Matt Damon and Jack Conley image
Julianne Moore, Matt Damon and Jack Conley



Coen Brothers script, Clooney directing, Damon, Moore, Isaac and newb Jupe acting – all the ingredients for cinematic gold. So why oh why was this movie so perfectly flat and disengaging? It never peaked – it had no purpose – everything just poorly meandered and the level of Coen humour was subdued by a valium blanket and never launched. 

I am assuming there is a reason the Coen Brothers didn’t direct this one themselves. It isn’t one of their finer scripts and may endeavour to say a lot on racism, the 50s and the picket fence communities of the time, but it never managed to say so in an effective way. The entire racism and “black” neighbours plotline felt more dissecting of the flow of the movie than parallel, the new neighbours are completely irrelevant to anything involving the main plot.

I understand the community and film makers are trying to blame everything negative on the black family that has moved in while being blind to the fact that a white family is basically a murderous bunch of assholes but it was so distracting to the plot. Narrative wise it would have been more effective for other crazy “white” cake-baking Tupperware neighbours to be involved and have their own messed up lives.

Clooney basically directed a Coen Brothers movie and assumed the magic would come. While occasional scenes of their dark level of humour poked it’s head out of the water it was too cold and it never fully surfaced.


Suburbicon Oscar Issac image
Oscar Issac



Is it odd that the tiny kid, Noah Jupe, stole the movie from the huge stars? Jupe was impressive and I am unsure if this is because my empathy was played in his “child” favour but he was the only character I gave a shit about, everyone else just plain sucked. If the movie had been from his point of view this could have been a great movie but instead it tried to play from the entire families differing storylines. But these storylines were in battle with each other. Was it a thriller? comedy? drama? horror? JUST PICK ONE!!!

Damon just never got there and played his “odd” Damon character. Two Julianne’s is always better than one but her character just paled in comparison to her recent outing in KINGSMAN. In fact her performance paled in comparison to everything she has done in the last few years. Under-utilised and a character with no motive besides loving a dickhead. Boring!

Oscar Isaac was a refreshing breath of air that swept through the cinema but was sadly, short-lived. I also liked Jack Conley but again, under-utilised.


Suburbicon Noah Jupe image
Noah Jupe



I am still perplexed at how much of a failure SUBURBICON was, given what they had to make it. If you want some Coen Bros. genius go and watch FARGO, THE BIG LEBOWSKI or NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN again because SUBURBICON will disappoint the crap out of you. Booooooooooo you Clooney!!!





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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