Director George Clooney is worried that people might be getting the wrong impression about his latest movie Suburbicon. He has now made a point to explain some of the possible misconceptions around the film, and insisted that it's not a comedy.
Suburbicon is based on a script that Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo) wrote in 1986, soon after the release of Blood Simple. The script remained in a development stage until Clooney was tapped to film the crime drama in 2015, with some reworking of the story by the director and his producing partner, Grant Heslov. The basic plot involves a '50s-era family who are the victims of a home invasion, while a suspicious investigator tries to uncover the full story and the hidden underbelly of crime and violence in the neighborhood. The very strong cast includes Matt Damon as the trouble-prone father of the family, with Julianne Moore (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as another family member and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as the suspicious investigator. The trailer and poster released in July certainly indicates the scenario of Pleasantville-gone-bad, with some blood-spattered images of Damon and the rest of the cast.
However, when Clooney spoke to EW, he seemed concerned that some people might be misled by the footage and images presented so far, and the way in which it has been represented by the entertainment media. Setting the record straight, he said:
"There's some misconceptions. They keep calling it a "comedy" and you'd be hard-pressed to find a lot of funny in it. It's a pretty angry and dark film, which is sort of what we wanted to make at the time. Every time I see someone go, "Yeah, it's a black-comedy!" you go, "There's a couple of laughs, but it wasn't designed to be ha-ha funny.... It's very very dark, It starts out feeling like a Disney film and, by the end, it feels like it takes a pretty dramatic, serious turn to, like, an acid trip of some form."
People who've viewed the trailer will probably be surprised that Clooney is as at pains to direct the description away from "black comedy". The footage contains typically jaunty '50s music and voiceovers, and arguably has some moments of slapstick violence directed towards Damon's character. The end sequence even shows him making a getaway on a small child's bicycle. But on the flip-side it is easy to see that away from the trailer format, this could very easily be a dark tale that only has some incidental humor. The influence of the Coen brothers is easy to pick up on, and this seems to be another version of ordinary people making bad choices that spin violently out of control. Nobody ever really describes Fargo as a comedy, despite some comic moments.
Clooney's first directorial offering Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - an adaptation of the cult memoir of game show impresario Chuck Barris - also skated a fine line between the ludicrous and the disturbing. His other more recent movies like The Ides of March, also show a keen eye for darkly dramatic moments. It might not be a "comedy", but Suburbicon remains a movie that certainly looks worthy of some attention when it opens in October.
- Suburbicon (2017) release date: Oct 27, 2017