Maybe Suburbicon failed because it has a well-worn suburban storyline

Suburbicon did not do well in its opening weekend: low box office receipts and abysmal responses from critics. While critics had a variety of concerns, could one of the issues be that the film has a suburban plot that is familiar? View the trailer here and the Google summarizes the plot this way:

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 must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit and violence.

Even with the Coen brothers presumably putting their own twist on things, plenty of novels, movies, and television shows (from the The Crack in the Picture Window to The Stepford Wives to American Beauty to Weeds) have explored a similar premise: beneath pleasant-looking white middle-class suburbia are deep secrets, unrest, and residents waiting to be violent and exclude others. It is even a regular theme in horror films. To stand out from this crowd, the new cultural product needs to be pretty interesting.

Additionally, I am not sure that all suburban residents take kindly to such portrayals. Some of these depictions are thinly veiled critiques of all of suburban life. While they may contain a grain of truth, the majority of Americans live in suburbs. Many of them feel that they worked hard to make it to their suburban location and will put up quite a fight if they feel their quality of life is threatened. Put it another way, with all of the negative portrayals of suburban life in six decades of mass suburbia after World War II, it may be surprising that Americans still moved there and often stayed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s