Matthew Lickona 9:21 a.m., Sept. 29
- Rated R | 1 hour, 45 minutes
- View trailer
It may be possible — perhaps by squinting and turning your head just so and maybe crossing your eyes a touch — to see why director George Clooney juxtaposes, at a climactic moment, the sick comedic violence of a man finding himself unable to extract his golf club from the smashed face of the poor slob he just murdered with the sick dramatic violence of a white mob terrorizing the first black family to take up residence in a normally peaceful neighborhood. (And not just there, just most glaringly there.) Perhaps it’s to show the evil that lurks in the hearts of white men, even as they fret over what will happen when the blacks move in. Perhaps it’s to scold those who focus on future woes like declining property values and intermarriage while murder and blackmail go on right under their noses. But whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work: the narrative automobile lurches from fifth gear to first, then swerves into a white picket fence and bursts into flames. It doesn’t help matters that the blacks in question register more as dignified props than as characters, while the white folks involved in the opposing murder story are made to live and breathe. And that story coulda been something: a grieving child’s gradual and terrifying awakening to the rot under his own roof. Instead, the film feels like what it is: an awkward, bloody mashup of Coen Bros. tragicomedy (they’re credited on the screenplay) and Clooney earnestness. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore star. 2017.