Suburbicon (Blu-ray) (2017)
|Year Of Production||2017|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||George Clooney|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
At face value, 2017's Suburbicon is an encouraging prospect, boasting a screenplay co-written by the Coen Brothers, an outstanding cast, a competent director in George Clooney, handsome production values, and slick visuals. Unfortunately, however, even though the resulting picture has its charms, it fails to come together in a cohesive or substantive fashion, biting off more content than it can adequately chew. Thus, Clooney's sixth directorial undertaking amounts to a muddled, disjointed mix of dark comedy, social commentary and a crime-gone-wrong plot, yet Suburbicon is surprisingly entertaining despite major narrative issues, and it's more watchable than its harsh critical reception implies. Even though the Fargo-esque story is overly standard-order, Suburbicon manages to keep its head just above water, though it is not essential viewing and it's Clooney's weakest movie as a director to date.
Set in the late 1950s, the titular Suburbicon is a flourishing, idyllic suburban community which embodies all the clichéd traits of '50s suburbia: perfectly manicured lawns, shiny cars, white picket fences, and even the overly smiley mailman who knows everybody. However, the arrival of a black family, the Mayers, leaves the enclave's entirely white population in an uproar, leading to harassment and protests. Amid this, nondescript office worker Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) resides in Suburbicon with his paraplegic wife Rose (Julianne Moore) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe), but a home invasion by two brutes (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell) leaves Rose dead and the family shaken up. Gardner's sister-in-law Margaret (also Moore) soon moves in to help Nicky adjust to losing his mother, while Nicky's Uncle Mitch (Gary Basaraba) is on hand to offer support when required. However, insurance claims investigator Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac) harbours suspicions about Rose's death, while Gardner is pursued by criminals to whom he owes money.
Despite the Coen Brothers receiving writing credits, Suburbicon is more the creation of Clooney and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov, merging an unproduced Coen Brothers script from the 1980s with an unrelated story based on the true events involving an African-American family moving into an all-white neighbourhood in the 1950s. Including the racism tangent is an opportunity for Clooney to deliver an obvious societal commentary about using minorities and immigrants as scapegoats for our problems, in the process satirising the hypocrisies of this period's cultural values. It might make sense thematically and theoretically, but the execution is slipshod at best; consequently, Suburbicon is disjointed and out of tune. Ultimately, the two separate storylines lack an intrinsic link to cohesively tie everything together. Nicky does play baseball with the Mayers' son, Andy (Tony Espinosa), but the angle is not substantial enough - perhaps the link would be stronger (and the commentary would be amplified) if black criminals carried out the Lodge home invasion, or if the Mayers were blamed for the crime.
From a technical perspective, Suburbicon is a big winner, with eye-catching set design and high quality production values convincingly bringing this 1950s neighbourhood to life. Additionally, the film opens strong, with a lively advertisement for Suburbicon that nails the intended satiric tone. Meanwhile, the cinematography by Oscar-winning veteran Robert Elswit (Inherent Vice, Nightcrawler) is downright stunning; slick and aesthetically pleasing, with smooth framing and gorgeously saturated colours. In keeping with the intended tone and style, Alexandre Desplat's accompanying original score is deliberately overdramatic, which is effective and suits the material. Furthermore, Clooney successfully apes the Coens' directorial style, at times achieving an admirable sense of authenticity throughout the adeptly-crafted set-pieces, which is understandable given his prior movies with the pair. Clooney also builds an eccentric, uncanny feeling throughout the neighbourhood, though Suburbicon is not as amusing or as quirky as it might have been if the Coens directed this picture themselves.
An array of noticeably Coen-esque characters inhabit Suburbicon, played to perfection by an able cast. Isaac is arguably the biggest scene stealer as a switched-on insurance investigator, but then again Isaac is great in anything. Basaraba also acquits himself admirably as the burly, outspoken Uncle Mitch, while Fleshler and Hassell are well-suited to the quirky mobster caricatures they portray. Interestingly, though Damon receives top billing, Nicky emerges as Suburbicon's true protagonist, as the story is more or less told through his eyes, and young Jupe is thankfully up to the task. Additionally, Moore convincingly pulls off the double duty as both Rose and Margaret, while Damon successfully commits to his role, playing an inversion of the benevolent working class father figure. There is not much depth at play here, as the actors simply play types as opposed to fully fleshed-out characters, but that seems wholly deliberate. Josh Brolin was originally cast as a baseball coach, but his scenes were cut in post-production despite Clooney believing them to be among the funniest scenes in the movie.
Perhaps if Clooney simply used the Coen Brothers' Suburbicon script in its original form, without adding the disjointed side story, this might have been a successful genre exercise about the vicious downward spiral for various characters after they participate in what seems like the perfect crime. As completed and released, though, Suburbicon is a true cinematic oddity which stumbles in its execution but is not entirely without merit. Indeed, it's not especially funny and the social commentary is ham-fisted, but it's also a strangely compelling Coen Brothers tribute which sometimes feels like the real thing.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Compared to the Region A-locked Blu-ray from Paramount released in the United States, the Roadshow disc misses out on:
|DVD||Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|