TIFF 2017: Suburbicon Is A Timely Blast From The Past


Who’s Behind It

Written and directed by George Clooney, written by Ethan and Joel Coen, Grant Heslov.

Who’s In It

Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac.

Who’ll Love It

Fans of film noir, the Coen Brothers, and any combination of the two. It also helps to have a high tolerance for Matt Damon at his least sympathetic.

What’s It About

The prototypical idyllic American community of the ’50s, Suburbicon is hiding all kinds of dark secrets beneath its friendly façade. Hell, there are also troubling realities right there on the surface, including the white characters’ overwhelmingly negative reaction to a black family that just arrived in their neighbourhood. In a more covert episode, the Lodge family–father Gardner, his wife (Julianne Moore), her sister Margaret (also Moore), and their son Nicky–become the victims of a home invasion that leads to the death of Mrs. Lodge. As the police investigate this crime, Nicky (and various others) come to realize that Gardner and Margaret are hiding some especially dark secrets.

Why You Should See It

The trailer for Suburbicon promises another wacky comedy from the Coen Brothers, but many fans of the celebrated filmmaking duo (who only co-wrote the script) will be happy to learn that this is actually an expertly crafted film noir revival. The material turns out to be an ideal match for director George Clooney, who has always shown a particular affinity for the ’50s. (The is arguably his finest directing effort since Good Night, and Good Luck, which explores another regrettable, but still relevant fiasco from that decade.) With most of the action confined to the house and/or neighbourhood of the central family, Suburbicon runs the risk of becoming claustrophobic, but Clooney’s attention to detail, brisk pacing, and visual inventiveness prevent this limitation from becoming an impediment. While the racial sub plot is not that well integrated, its underlying idea—that white Americans have a history of demonizing others, rather than dealing with their own shortcomings—gives the proceedings surprising resonance. Fans of Matt Damon’s usual everyman charm might be disappointed to see him in unsympathetic, loathsome mode, but Suburbicon is a pleasant surprise for all involved.

When You Can See It

Saturday, September 9 at 6:30PM (Princess of Wales); Sunday, September 10 at 12PM (Princess of Wales). Tickets available here. Opens wide October 27. Check out the trailer below.