Quick Hit: Awful.
Because Shannon loves Matt Damon, we will probably work through his entire filmography at some point. On one hand, he’s been in some damn good movies – Good Will Hunting, The Bourne Identity, Saving Private Ryan, The Departed. On the other hand, well, look only at The Great Wall to see that we all have a few roles we probably shouldn’t have taken on. Which leads us to today’s film, Suburbicon, which somehow I’m rating lower than what I rated The Great Wall, despite being originally written by the Coen brothers, who last week I gave a glowing review for Fargo.
Speaking of Fargo, you can tell that this is an earlier draft of that much better film. Damon stars as Gardner, who is married to Rose (Julianne Moore). Rose’s twin sister Margaret (also played by Moore) also is around, and they have a son. Well, as I said, a group of gangsters breaks in for some reason and knocks them all out with chloroform, accidentally overdosing Rose. This leaves Gardner and Margaret to pick up the pieces and start to raise the son, all while trying to collect insurance money for the death.
There’s also a huge side plot that has nothing to do with the film as written to this point. It was apparently written by George Clooney when he came on to direct the film. It all has to do with racism, and involves a black family moving into the suburbs with all the white families. This has nothing to do with any of the characters besides the little boy, who gets forced by Margaret to go play with the "little black boy". I guess it’s supposed to be an allegory of some sort – the white folk all complain about the violence the black families will bring when the violence is all coming from white folks themselves – but it falls epically flat here.
There’s a bunch of the Coen’s traditional comedy here, but it’s stretched and thin. The black comedy that functions so well in Fargo comes off here as shrug-worthy, or even worse as just uncomfortable. For me, one of those scenes was the son’s uncle giving him money just to shake him upside down… right after his mother’s funeral. I don’t know why that’s supposed to be humorous, but I just felt odd watching it.
There’s one light in the darkness, keeping me from giving the movie a completely desultory review. That light is Oscar Issac (yes, he of the maligned X:Men Apocalypse) as the insurance salesman. He’s quick, he’s sleezy, and he’s the best character in the film by far. I didn’t mind Moore as Margaret, particularly in the one scene where she gets left alone to contemplate a life without Rose, but I really thought Damon was miscast as Gardner. I didn’t believe it for a second.
In the end, I really didn’t like this movie. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch it – even and especially lovers of Matt Damon. I’m giving it a “F”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"