With such a star lineup, nothing could go wrong: George Clooney as a director. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore on camera. The script by the Coen brothers (“No Country for Old Men”). And yet a lot went wrong with the drama “Suburbicon”, which runs on Monday at 10:15 pm on ZDF.
The action takes place in the supposed suburban idyll in the United States of the 1950s. When the black Mayers family moved into the hitherto exclusively white, eponymous settlement, the residents reacted first with “I have nothing against blacks, but …” arguments and later with racist attacks.
At the Lodge you have completely different problems: Rose (Julianne Moore) dies after two criminals break in. She is survived by her husband Gardner (Matt Damon), son Nicky (Noah Jupe) and their twin sister Margaret (also Moore). But not only Nicky soon realizes that the story his father and aunt tell him stinks to heaven.
What sounded like a guaranteed success on paper in 2017 became a colossal flop, at least in the cinema – among critics and viewers. The film gave Paramount Pictures one of the worst film releases in its history. According to the IMDb cinema platform, the budget was around $ 25 million, of which only about half was recorded worldwide. The film was “a morass of contradictory, misguided intentions,” wrote K. Austin Collins for the Internet portal “The Ringer”.
Clooney’s previous trips to the director were successful. For example, the political dramas “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “The Ides of March – Days of Betrayal” were nominated for Oscars.
The problem with «Suburbicon» is primarily the script. As Clooney told The Atlantic magazine in 2017, the Coen brothers had written a version of the film a long time ago. He and his writing partner Grant Heslov later added to the script.
This gives you the feeling of watching two films: The history of the Lodge family is a classic Coen grotesque – without attaining the humor of its best works. There should be a reason that they didn’t film «Suburbicon» themselves. The story line of the black Mayers family, on the other hand, shows the ugly and everyday racism in the USA in the 1950s. Both parts are connected by the friendship of the two sons, but still act strangely independently.
The Mayers family face terrible discrimination, but Clooney lets viewers learn almost nothing about the characters. The casual description of the attacks may underline their everyday life. Nevertheless, the strand seems out of place. The motifs of the characters by Damon and Moore are at least touched on, but remain just as template-like. Only Oscar Isaac makes a strong appearance as a knowledgeable investigator of an insurance company. In the end, the realization remains that the collaboration of many film greats does not guarantee success.