George Clooney has had a strong, if short, directing career. Good Night, and Good Luck remains a masterpiece, and every other film is watchable, even if The Monuments Men, The Ides of March and Leatherheads are rather forgettable. Unfortunately, Suburbicon is not very appealing. The black-hearted satire is without a lick of humor, which is odd, as the original script was provided by the Coen brothers, who know how to squeeze humor out of the bleakest of scenarios.
Set in a 1950s suburban “utopia,” Suburbicon homes in on Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), who becomes a single father after his wife, Rose (Julianne Moore), is murdered by a couple of home assailants (Glenn Fleshler, an HBO regular on “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Detective,” and Alex Hassell). Soon, his late wife’s twin, Margaret, is changing her hair color and picking up the marital slack, which is suspicious enough to warrant an investigation by an insurance man named Bud Foster (Oscar Isaac, whose scenes are the only ones with some humorous zip), who shows up to question Gardner and Margaret’s motives. Eventually, things fall further apart, during a violent protest targeting Suburbicon’s first black family.
Alas, Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov fail to find or add any humor to this old Coens script; their pitch-black comedy has one genuine laugh. Instead, they gift audiences a subversive, Coen-esque mashup of Hitchcock and film noir, which is 100 percent absurd and not a bit amusing.