Georgia Dack



Georgia is the website entertainment editor and is also an English literature and Film student; she (unsurprisingly) enjoys & likes to write about cinema, tv shows, books, music, and culture.

Suburbicon: a utopian little town where everyone and everything is perfect. The whole community, styled in 1950s aesthetic, lives is peace and harmony. The Lodges are one of those happy families: Mr Lodge has a good steady job; Mrs Lodge, although in a wheelchair, seems to be alright – her identical sister comes over often to help out, and their son is a bright lovely boy. As with all families in Suburbicon, they live happily and nothing seems to be abnormal. That is, until a new family moves into the neighbourhood.

The film, written by the Coen brothers, is exactly what you could expect from a Coen production: a pastel-coloured black comedy. The film, rewritten and directed by George Clooney, was originally about domestic violence, betrayal and the unfortunate aftermath of it, just as the trailer perfectly spoils. The subplot, which involves an African American family moving into an all-white community, was added by Clooney, and is based on real events. Both plots unfold side-by-side leading to tragedies on both side of the fence that separates the two households.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with the movie. It is acted extremely well, and as an anti-fan of Matt Damon I was surprised at how well he performed. The cinematography is beautiful. The music raises the tension and works well with the image. Everything looks and sounds very Coenian, where there is that beautiful awkwardness between the grotesque characters exaggerated by the rhythm of editing. I could say that it is a very good movie, yet I believe it was not a good black comedy.

If one would take the two plots and put them side-by-side the reason for me seems quite simple: The story of the Lodges was created, by Coen brothers, to be humorous at the expense of Gardner Lodge’s incapability and entrapment in the situation that he has created for himself. It is a classical farce full of absurdity and improbabilities. On the other hand, you have a story of the Mayers, adapted by Clooney, about real people and their very real experiences, a story that shows how people can be horrible to each other over racial differences. It is not funny at all. Nor is it intended to be funny.

So what does happen when you put those two stories next to one another? A confused audience. I didn’t laugh a single time during the screening, nor did other members of the audience. Maybe it was the directors’ intention to question the line between tragicomedy and a tragedy. For me, it was confusing and maybe a bit inappropriate.

The movie is enjoyable to watch. It is well composed, everything seems to work; but if you are expecting to be amused by an innocent comedy of errors you might be disappointed. The movie confronted an important and current issue of racism which undeniably should be addressed, especially in American culture where it seems to be more problematic than in Europe. I appreciate Clooney’s good intentions, and if his intention was really to question the line between tragicomedy and tragedy then I would applaud him for tricking people into believing they were in for a silly dark comedy, before delivering something more meaningful. But I just wanted to have fun. And I didn’t.