Ah, the picture perfect 1950s.
That American decade featured a Normal Rockwell portrait of our culture at its pinnacle. Neatly manicured lawns. Fathers who worked 9 to 5 and then came home to warm, well-prepared dinners. A pie on every window sill and a chicken in every pot.
Gang violence? Teen pregnancies? Racism? That happened outside the picture frame.
That’s the image Hollywood can’t stop mocking.
“Suburbicon,” the next film directed by George Clooney, takes direct aim at ’50s America. Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac star in the October 27 release. That’s smack dab in the middle of Oscar movie season, mind you.
The trailer’s satirical tweaks kick in right away. The fictional setting offers, “the promise of prosperity for all.” Except for minorities and women, naturally.
Hollywood is wise, and right, to remind us of that fact when it revisits the era. It also too conveniently ignores the decency of ’50s America. That isn’t as “dark” or “exciting” to explore.
“Suburbicon” comes from the minds of Joel and Ethan Coen. Their work speaks for itself. Their collaborations with Clooney, to date, have been … intriguing. The best, by far, remains “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The madcap comedy showcased a comic side to Clooney’s persona we never saw coming.
Last year’s “Hail, Caesar!” offered some highlights before its generic third act. “Intolerable Cruelty” proved even less consistent.
How will the trio fare this time around?
Suffice to say they’re walking on well worn turf. Consider the following movies which similar torched Suburban U.S.A.
“The Stepford Wives”
That’s just a partial list.
There’s certainly plenty of dramatic hay to be observed from suburban life, particularly during the finely pressed, and repressed, 1950s. Still, at a time when we look to storytellers like Clooney and the Coen brothers for a respite from Reboot Mania, the themes here seem all too familiar.
Let’s hope the finished product is so good, and so compelling, we’ll look past all of that.
Note: Here’s the official synopsis of “Suburbicon” from Paramount Pictures:
“‘Suburbicon’ is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns… the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices.”