When it comes to the Coen Brothers, guessing whether or not their works will be successful is about as unpredictable as their plots. Gauging their box office impact, Joel and Ethan Coen have had their highs (True Grit (2010)) and they’ve certainly had their lows (Intolerable Cruelty (2003)). While many mainstream critics fawn over the majority of these movies, fans are not so quick to shell out the money that would normally bring smiles to the studios faces. The latest movie written by the talented duo, Suburbicon will more than likely experience the same uncertainty.
In a quaint and quiet suburban community, all appears to normal on the surface. Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is the head of the household that includes a loving wife and a young son named Nicky (Noah Jupe). Margaret Lodge (Julianne Moore) is confined to a wheelchair due to an automobile accident, but they make due with the help of her sister, Rose (also played by Julianne Moore). The neighborhood gets stirred up when a new family moves into one of the homes. Let’s just say that race has a major part to do with this unrest and angst. Matters become even more complicated when the Lodge household is attacked and not everyone makes it out alive. Things escalate even further as this crime mystery unfolds. By the end, everything will spiral out of control with lots destruction left in its wake.
Suburbicon is not your typical plot but it is your typical Coen Brothers plot. Expect some very dark humor as well as plenty of talent. The commercials, as well as the trailer, only slightly touch on what to expect from this movie. On one hand, that’s a strong strategy because you’re coming in fresh and unassuming. On the other hand however, I don’t think the tone will be well accepted by ill-prepared moviegoers. George Clooney, a Coen veteran, stays true to their form in how he approaches this movie. The talent attached is top quality. There are quite a few twists and turns as well. And the violence is very matter of fact and in your face.
When you line up actors like Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, one would speculate that you’re going to be in for a treat. Each of these actors have worked with the Coen Brothers before so they know what to expect. That being said, their performances were bland and uneven. Some of it is due to the mostly predictable script. At times, over direction may be the culprit. Either way, the end result is one of flat blandness. Even the secondary story revolving around race felt blah. The best part of Suburbicon is the budding relationship between Nicky and his new neighbor, Andy (Tony Espinosa). There is much to take in from their interactions but, unfortunately, that isn’t the focal point of the plot.
I can’t see how Suburbicon can be anything but a disappoint when the weekend box office numbers are tallied. With a disjointed plot and an uninteresting storyline, it will most likely flop faster a toddler trying to run onto a sheet of ice at full speed while wearing socks. Even if you’re a fan of any particular segment of this movie, I don’t think you’ll come out of the theater saying, “wow, I’m glad I saw this today/tonight.” Wait until it’s available to watch at home if you’re seeking value for your dollar.