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Suburbicon

Suburbicon

‘Dark’ does not even come close. This schizoid, angry comedy may be for acquired tastes, and I may not be able to watch it again for quite a while. But I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad adventurous moviegoers can, too.

George Clooney and Grant Heslov set out to make a film, based on the true story of a black family that moved into a Pennsylvania Levittown community in the 1950s. Remembering a script called Suburbicon the Coen Brothers had sent him back in 1999, Clooney tried to incorporate the two pieces together. The results feel uneven, but, as wacky as they are, also firmly entrenched in the old saying, “you never can trust your neighbors”. It probably doesn’t take much to guess which neighbors turn out to be the very, very bad guys here.

The action begins when a young boy (a terrific Noah Jupe) is awakened by his dad, who tells him there are men in the house. Why would dad want to do that? Wouldn’t a parent want to hide a child from intruders? Sure enough, things go wrong quickly and mommy is killed. Thankfully, her look alike sister can move in, help maintain the household and life in the Suburbicon tract house can go on. But does it?

While we’ve seen Julianne Moore take on this period before, it’s fun to watch Matt Damon try it on for size. Bulked up and nasty, he gives a performance that’s fresh and fun to watch. And speaking of fun, keep your eyes peeled for Oscar Issac, who’s a hoot in a small, but pivotal role.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a breezy comedy: much of what we see, in particular the staging of real events that happened to the neighborhood newcomers, is horrifying. And, sadly, all too reminiscent of what we are also seeing take place today.

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