When the Coen brothers wrote Suburbicon around 30 years ago, they initially asked George Clooney to be the star
Almost three decades later, George Clooney decided to take the unmade film Suburbicon off the shelf to re-write. He intended to direct a movie that he believed would be relevant to the modern day. However, many critics are not so sure that he succeeded in achieving his goal. Suburbicon can appear to some to sit in the shadow of the Coen brother’s mastery of the dark comedy genre.
Clooney takes the Coen brothers script and uses it as a skeleton upon which to flesh out his political agenda. However, many critics perceive it to be debatable as to whether or not he successfully achieved this. During the press conference at the 74th Venice Film Festival, Clooney explains how he wanted to portray somehow the real life story of an African American family who had moved to 1950s suburban town Levittown. William and Daisy Meyer had become subject to violent racism and bigotry when their white neighbors.
Juxtaposing innocence and evil
Rather than creating a whole film about the Meyers, Clooney explained how he remembered the Coen brothers Suburbicon script and felt he could perfectly juxtapose the two storylines. Indeed, the layout of the 1950s town of Suburbicon is reminiscent of the postwar invention of suburbia, which the Levitt family had created in Levittown. On the surface, Levittown was picture perfect with cookie cutter houses and white picket fences. Deep down, many of its citizens were writhing in sinister hatred.
Clooney set about creating his racial juxtaposition by comparing the innocence of the Meyer family, with his protagonists played by Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Noah Jupe. Damon plays a stereotypical suburban husband called Gardner Lodge. Lodge’s wife Rose (played by Moore) dies. She leaves her twin sister Margaret (also played by Moore) to look after him and their son Nicky (Jupe). This seemingly normal 1950s family begins to wreak havoc in their neighborhood.
The cynical and dark comedy that ensues appears farcical
Most critics agree that Clooney slaughtered the Coen brother’s original script and then tried to prop up its decaying corpse with crude morticians makeup. The story that he initially wished to draw attention to, that of the African American Meyer family, disappears into the background behind the violence and murders committed by the psychopathic stereotypical middle-class white family.
Nevertheless, Moore, Damon, and Clooney have been working the press circuits to promote the film. Poignantly, Moore drew attention to a theme within the movie regarding children. Young Nicky is caught up in the insanity that surrounds him, yet he still finds solace in his friendship with Meyer’s son Andy.
Hope for the future
Moore pointed out how the film illustrates how children are completely within the control of their parents. But despite this, Nicky overcomes his cognitive dissonance in regards to his inherent distrust of his father. The shining light at the end of the film is the friendship between the boys. This friendship serves to illustrate hope for the future.