Venice 2017: SUBURBICON [PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO/REVIEW]
25 Oct, 2017
We were able to catch the world premiere of SUBURBICON, a Paramount Pictures release, at Venice Film Festival 2017 on September 2nd, opening weekend of the iconic Italian cinematic extravaganza. The film festival, part of the Venice Biennale, was founded in 1932 and is the oldest film festival in the world. The film SUBURBICON, set in the picture-perfect 1950s, is directed by Academy Award® winner George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck) and written by Academy Award® winners Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men), and Clooney & Academy Award® winner Grant Heslov (Argo). The film stars Academy Award® winners Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) and Julianne Moore (Still Alice), with eleven year-old Noah Jupe (The Night Manager and upcoming Wonder). Also starring is Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Watch the official SUBURBICON press conference at Venice Film Festival 2017:
The 1950s, following the Second World War, was a time when America’s emerging middle class was moving to the suburbs. Owning a home, part of the idyllic American Dream that so many strove for, was becoming a reality for the first time. Clooney was interested in “peeling back that veneer of the perfect home life, and seeing how ugly things can get.”
The ironic story begins when the first African-American family moves into an all-white neighborhood. The mailman that delivers mail to the new neighbors assumes Mrs. Myers, who answers the door is the maid. As word gets around that the couple has moved in, a storm erupts with crowds on their lawn shouting racial epitaphs, aggressively and angrily attempting to push them out of the neighborhood. As this is happening things get even uglier as Matt Damon, who plays embattled suburban father Gardner Lodge, who appears, on the surface, to be a model husband and father, but ends up getting involved in criminal activity. Damon explains that “There’s something in the national consciousness that wants to look at this era with rose colored glasses…We want to believe everyone was somehow happier, but obviously people are people, and there was still a lot of dark stuff going on.”
Damon confesses he “put on a few extra pounds” in an attempt to portray men of the 50s, who didn’t really exercise much in an effort to find the right physicality for his character. Moore plays two characters in the film, Gardner’s wife Rose and her twin sister Margaret, who helps out around house, eventually becoming a permanent resident. “At the start of the film, Margaret is the sweeter, simpler sister,” says Moore. “She’s secretly envious of her sister’s life, which creates some tension and informs the decisions she makes.” Clooney jumped at the chance to cast Moore in a dual role: “Julianne can literally do anything…she’d played a twin before, years ago on a soap opera, and came up with a great character moment where Margaret dyes her hair blonde to look like her sister, which I think tells you a lot about who she is.”
The Lodge family’s calm façade is shattered and things take a dark turn when two street toughs, Ira (True Detective’s GLENN FLESHLER) and Louis (Cold Mountain’s ALEX HASSELL), invade their home in the middle of the night. The burglars take them hostage and chloroform the family, killing Rose. Things get much worse as Gardner continues making poor decisions which draw him into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Ira and Louis.
There is a great deal of irony and social commentary in the story of the African-American Myer’s family moving in and disrupting “normalcy” of the all-white neighborhood. Just like others that moved into the neighborhood, they were a blooming family in search of the American Dream—hoping to feel welcome and safe in their new home. But unfortunately, they were harassed and treated disrespectfully by the community who were protesting their presence. “Suburbicon speaks to the time we are living in,” adds Damon. “The neighborhood is building a wall around the house of the African American family that just moved in, trying to annex their little area. Meanwhile, the crazy people in the neighborhood are right around the corner.” “Everybody’s looking in the wrong direction,” says Clooney. “They want to believe this myth that nothing bad happened before the minorities arrived. When we look back at this time when America was great, we have to remember that it wasn’t particularly great for a lot of people. That’s a conversation that’s always topical.”
SUBURBICON, which was shot entirely in Southern California, on location in Los Angeles County and Orange County, will have its theatrically release via Paramount Pictures in the USA on October 27, 2017.
Top featured image: Alexandre Desplat, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and George Clooney at Venice Film Festival 2017 SUBURBICON red carpet | Photo courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia