Suburbicon (2017)
A Tonally-Confused Mess That Should Have Been Better.
4 May 2018
"Suburbicon" should have been great. It has a great cast, a capable director, and has a script by the Coen brothers. So how is it that the end result is such a mess? The trailer sold it as a black crime comedy in the vein of "Fargo", but the actual film feels like three different movies mashed into one, and never coheres into a successful whole. One minute, it's a quirky satirical comedy where Matt Damon escapes from an explosion on a bicycle. The next, it's a serious crime drama with some pretty intense and bloody scenes. And the next, it's about a black family who moves into the neighbourhood and are met with prejudice and harassment.

The biggest issue with the racial subplot is that the black characters are utterly devoid of character, and their scenes feel like they belong in a different film entirely.

The central plot involving Matt Damon and Julianne Moore is hampered by the fact that none of the characters are likeable even as anti-heroes - the Coens are normally good at writing about characters who are entertaining to watch despite not being "good guys" in the traditional sense, but these people are simply impossible to like.

There are some bright spots - the production design is impressive, and some scenes are legitimately funny. But without a doubt, the best part of this movie is a scene-stealing cameo from the always-brilliant Oscar Isaac, who brings an energy to his performance that the rest of the film sorely lacks. It's in his scenes that we get a sense of the film this could have (and should have) been, but for the most part, this is simply a disappointment. It cannot decide if it wants to be a satirical comedy or an angrily dark film noir that deals with racial tensions, and ultimately does not really succeed at either.
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