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TIFF 2017: ‘Suburbicon’ Looks At The Great American Community

Clooney dissects the notion of idealized suburban life.



The current president’s “Make America Great Again” movement won over voters by tapping into their yearnings for the past. There’s a swath of American’s clinging to a romanticized image of a country that never really existed. In this golden era, dad worked at the factory, mom stayed home with the kids, and everybody on the block knew their neighbours’ names — and if these communities happened to be all white, well then, so be it. Armed with a Coen brothers script, director George Clooney grinds these notions into dust. His latest film, Suburbicon, looks at the great American community, and the rot festering inches below its “idyllic” surface.


Suburbicon isn’t shy about showing its influences. The film comes off like Billy Wilder’s 1944 noir classic, Double Indemnity, tacked on to a Leave it to Beaver episode. Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), Margaret (Julianne Moore), and their son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are a happy family living in white picket paradise. In their isolated community, the grass is always green, the birds always sing, and the neighbours are always white — until they aren’t. When a black family moves in next door ,their community descends into chaos. As outrage centres on the new neighbours, criminals invade Gardner’s home, setting off a Coen-esque series of events. To say any more would be to spoil Suburbicon‘s many twists and turns.

Clooney effectively blends 50’s era whimsy with coal-black comedy beats and noir thrills, all while satirizing 2017’s political landscape. He pulls solid performances from his entire cast but Oscar Isaac is operating on a level above everybody else. With a great cast, gratifying plot, and timely themes, Suburbicon makes for an enjoyable watch, and one of the better films in Clooney’s oeuvre.

The 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival is held from 7 to 17 September 2017.

Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based pop culture writer and film critic who enjoys covering the city's biggest (and nerdiest) events. Victor has covered TIFF, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada for publications all over the internet. You can find his latest posts on Twitter and Instagram.