George Clooney's latest directorial effort, Suburbicon, saw its debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 2. Both he and Matt Damon, Suburbicon's star, see a disturbing thread between the dark plot of the movie and current events — and specifically how it's tied to the violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protestors in Charlottesville.
Damon's character, Gardner, lives in Suburbicon, a town "built with the promise of prosperity for all," and his life and family are both fractured forever when strangers break into his house and his wife is killed in the horrible ordeal. Suburbicon becomes less of a town with optimistic potential for the people who live there and more of a nightmarish powder keg of a place in the days that follow. When people of color move into the predominantly white community, the ensuing madness is blamed on them instead of on Gardner, who's directly responsible for the rising tension (and bodycount).
“It’s kind of the definition of white privilege when you’re riding around your neighborhood on a bicycle covered in blood murdering people and the African American family is getting blamed for it,” Damon told The Hollywood Reporter. “We couldn’t have predicted obviously when we were filming these race riots, that we would have something like Charlottesville. It does speak to the fact that these issues have not and are not going away until there’s an honest reckoning in our country.”
Clooney was inspired by the racist, xenophobic rhetoric he heard in campaign trail speeches that involved "building fences and scapegoating minorities." "I started looking around at other times in our history when we’ve unfortunately fallen back to these things, and I found this story that happened in Levittown, Pennslyvania," he said. "The idea of juxtaposing these two was to say, you’re looking in the wrong direction if you’re blaming this African American family for all your woes."
He adds that though the script was informed by Trump's words, it's not a Trump movie, but a film about "coming to terms constantly with the idea that we have never addressed our issues of race fully." At the mention of audiences getting angry upon viewing Suburbicon, he stressed that that's the point.
“A lot of us are angry — angry at ourselves, angry at the way the country is going, and angry at the way the world is going," he continued. "This seems to reflect that. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a fair thing to do. We didn’t want this to just be this polemic that’s a civics lesson. We wanted it to be funny. We wanted it to be mean. But it certainly got angry and it got angrier as we were shooting.”
Suburbicon opens in theaters October 27.