Written by / 10/28/2017 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

GEORGE CLOONEY DIRECTS MATT DAMON IN SUBURBICON

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2017
It may have seemed logical before, but now there's genuine proof that a Coen Brothers movie has to be both written and directed by Joel and Ethan so that the dark comedy seems genuine, palpable, and not one bit contrived...

But their own personal Cary Grant in George Clooney, the star of a few less inspired installments after the bro's last true classic, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, has, as director and co-writer, made his very own "Coen Brothers" experience taking place in a 1950's Suburban community called, simply enough, SUBURBICON, a misleading paradise with postcard-perfect houses and manicured lawns belonging to one-dimensional neighbors, all of them white... Save for the black family that just moved in... a husband, wife and child suffering through chanting protests right outside their living room window, and for absolutely zero reason plot-wise except to further prove how hypnotically racist, soulless and Stepford-like Caucasians were back then (as if we hadn't learned by now, again and again and again)...

SuburbScore: 1/2
But even this chanting mob is merely a background distraction for a pointless fable centering on who seems to be the most open-minded neighbor, living with his aunt and son after wife/mom was killed in an opening scene that plays out like IN COLD BLOOD on downers... Which the main character, Matt Damon, seems to have overdosed on: With zero personality he's hardly a person to either root for as a hero or follow as a pawn through this sluggish maze without corners... 

Despite a few quirky Coen elements, SUBURBICON goes absolutely nowhere, slowly. The location is supposed to mean everything, and does look old-new and genuinely nostalgic, but it's eye candy without a main course. Plus there's a particularly loud, awkward silence throughout: difficult to explain except that it occurs when a movie has no point or purpose, urgency or destination...

Unlike a real Coen's film, the moments that don't serve the plot aren't intriguing/engrossing as a character-study while these characters, white or black, drive absolutely nothing. The best thing is the relatively short run time. Plus there's an inevitable yet still somewhat intriguing primal twist that could've given Matt Damon's middle-aged sad-sack a touch of TALENTED MR. RIPLEY but... no dice. Not even Coen stock trouper Julianne Moore has anything more to give than dull stares in the 4.8 imdb-rated abyss that, like THE MONUMENTS MEN, proves Clooney is more beloved within the "progressive" bowels of Hollywood than a mainstream audience: anyone else would be banned from filmmaking. As an actor (INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, HAIL CAESAR) and director, he should just stay away from the Coens... Especially in this case, tacking-on an overblown social message to what was originally (most likely) just a Noir-inspired tale of murder and mayhem. Let's face it... George is so politically motivated, he simply can't have any fun. To paraphrase the mortician's request to Don Corleone in THE GODFATHER... He wants us to suffer, like they suffered. 
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