Surburbicon is a deranged, vile film, and I really enjoyed watching it! In order to get made in our cookie-cutter and grossly homogenized studio-dominated movie landscape, this fucked-up little piece of cinematic depravity could only have been independently produced (it was) by some major creative forces (it was), and while I have no doubt that most people will actively hate this violent and misanthropic piece of business, I thought it was hilariously mean-spirited, totally bizarre and oddly constructed, and acted with tonal perfection by an amazing cast of movie stars who got down and dirty in a way that I’ve not seen since The Counselor. Now, Suburbicon and The Counselor are mostly definitely VERY different beasts; it’s just that not too many recent movies have made it their goal to kill off a bunch of big movie stars throughout their narratives. But these transgressive films certainly had no problem with such a notion. And again, this is one of those oddities that’s far from perfect, and that most people will detest, but it definitely was up my alley.
Co-written by the Coen brothers, Grant Heslov, and director George Clooney, this film feels like Pleasantville on crack, with a hostile, racially-charged subplot that feels injected into the proceedings as a direct response to Donald Trump’s election as President (one of the most revolting things that people are now forced to type), as the rest of the movie follows a pretty standard but still gripping noir/crime tale about a murderous husband who hires some thugs to knock off his wife, with trouble brewing almost immediately in the aftermath. There isn’t only likable character in the entire piece except for a 10 year old boy, who goes through some SERIOUS child endangerment, which is another ingredient that has been stripped away from most major movies today. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is unsurprisingly stylish, the tight pacing by the brilliant editor Stephen Mirrione wastes not one scene or moment, and the dark yet playful musical score by Alexandre Desplat channels Carter Burwell in all the right ways. This film also feels like the by-product of the Fargo television series, which of course was inspired by the 1995 masterpiece directed by the Coen brothers. We’ve come full circle!
Review by Nick Clement