Damon, Clooney Defend Black Family’s Portrayal in ‘Suburbicon’

The film has received mixed reviews, with some critics hammering its superficial treatment of the Black characters.


(Reuters) — The African American family struggling to fit in in an all-white suburb in 1950s America in the George Clooney-directed dark satire “Suburbicon” was intentionally portrayed in a one-dimensional way, actor Matt Damon said on Sunday.

The film, based on a script written by Joel and Ethan Coen, stars Damon and Julianne Moore and depicts the violent efforts of the neighborhood’s white residents to oust a Black family, the Meyers, after blaming them for a deadly break-in.

The film has received mixed reviews since its world premiere in Venice earlier this month, with some critics hammering its superficial treatment of the Black characters.

“The Meyers family, you never know them, right, and that’s the point,” Damon told a news conference at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Because the town didn’t get to know them, they just freaked out.”

Moore added: “They blamed them for absolutely everything and then you see us in our little house quietly going about our dirty business.”

Moore plays both Damon’s wife and her sister, who hatches a plot with Damon’s character Gardner Lodge to stage a home invasion and get rid of the wife to start a new life together.

The film lands at a time of deep unease over race in America after white supremacists clashed with anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Va., last month, leaving one counter-protester dead.

“Its bigger problem is a timely subplot about virulent racism among white Americans that comes off as a mishandled afterthought,” Hollywood Reporter said.

Film site Collider added that by depriving the Meyers of individual voices and having them “stand in for all black families, Clooney turns them into a cardboard cutout.”

“We wanted it to be entertaining, we didn’t want it to be a documentary and we didn’t want it to be an ‘eat your spinach’ piece of filmmaking,” Clooney told the news conference.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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  • Kind of like real life. I love it when art imitates reality and makes people very uncomfortable.

  • Many if not most Blacks in situations like that did not have voices. It really does make sense to tell the truth the way the storyteller sees the truth from his or her perspective. Political correctness does not negate history. History is what is was, period. We may not like it, but so what. If we start dismissing history, we dismiss who we are as a people. A Black family moving into a white neighborhood in the 1950’s didn’t have a voice to speak of. They talked among themselves but that was that, for the most part. They didn’t talk to their white neighbors, because as the film suggests, the neighbors didn’t give them a chance. Thank you Damon and Clooney for at least giving it a shot. And you are absolutely right, we have never dealt with the issues of race because we are so damn afraid of being offended. Truth offends. Get over it and get free from it!!! Yes, I’m Black!

  • The problem is that African American people did have a voice. They had a loud and effective voice and that is part of the reason why our country has changed and made some progress. African American people expressed their voice(s) in myriad ways and elevated their collective voice in a way that made the world stop and listen. The voice of African American people stopped slavery, caused the enactment of the 1964 Voting Rights Act, 1968 Fair Housing Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and so much more. The voice of African American people created Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B, etc. and helped to change and shape our country. That Clooney, Damon, Moore and others are oblivious to that fact are a reflection of the racism that still shapes our society today. I’m glad Clooney wants to shed a light on how racism is perpetuated in today’s society. Perhaps he should take a look at not only how the African American actors and actresses in this film are portrayed but how they were paid, how much spotlight they received in the film, how they are being utilized in marketing efforts around the film and how their voices are or are not being heard in the public forums engaging on this work. Perhaps he should also shed light on how professionals of color were utilized (or not) to bring this film into fruition.

  • How odd: the article is about racism. But the interviewees are all white, speaking on the impact of the white characters’ negative actions against a black family. But none of the black actors in the cast could have spoken to this?
    Similar to having an Administration committee of older men making decisions on the reproductive rights of all women…

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