It’s Sunday in Suburbicon and we’ve got all the time in the world. So says Margaret (Julianne Moore) to her nephew Nicky (Noah Jupe). The sky is blue, the grass is green and the picket fences like the faces of the model town’s residents are as white as the milk of human kindness. That is, until Mr and Mrs Mayers (Leith Burke and Karimah Westbrook) and their young son Andy (Tony Espinosa) set up house. We don’t want them here, complains a neighbour. Erect a fence, orders a protester. They don’t want to better themselves, sneers a vox popper à la Mary Whitehouse.
But the trouble facing the Lodge household, headed by Gardner (Matt Damon) and his wife Rose (again played by Moore), is not the enemy without but the enemy within. For when the are visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past in the shape of mobsters Ira and Louis (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell), the resultant murder raises the eyebrows of Detective Hightower (Jack Conley) and Insurance Claims Investigator and self-proclaimed “professional sceptic” Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac) who suspect foul-play.
Things like that don’t happen here, pipes up a curtain twitcher. This was a safe place, chips in another. Or at least it was, bemoans a third ‒ until they arrived. They being the innocent Mayers family who are almost driven out of their home by a braying mob. But as the old saying goes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, because behind the veneer of white respectability lurks a world of hypocrisy and shame including sexual ping pong with a table tennis bat.
Penned by director George Clooney and his frequent collaborators Grant Heslov and the Coen brothers, the script is part-comedy, part-thriller. And though most of the plot twists are signposted well in advance, there is enough momentum to hold the attention. The cinematography by Robert Elswit (Nightcrawler) along with the production design and costumes capture the period to a tee. And the score by the Oscar-winning composer of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat, much like the depiction of racism, is light touch.
In summary, a black comedy about Middle America which is middle of the road and not quite all-white on the night!
Video courtesy of: Paramount Pictures