The most uncomfort-able film I've seen in quite some years. I've yet to read a review that is defiantly 'kind' to it, and following a disastrous opening in America where it's quickly been withdrawn from cinemas, it gets a more limited screening here. All this despite it being directed by George Clooney, no less, and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. It did look really great from the trailer, I must say - more than interesting enough to entice me in to satisfy my curiosity.
All the negativities spouted about it seem to centre on its uneven-ness of tone and having too many strands - even a 'mess', some say. But it's not that at all. Disorientating it most certainly is.
Clooney has taken an early, late 1980s, script of the Coen brothers and (together with one Grant Heslov) has extended it and added layers - and this is where I think most critics judge that it misfires.
Set at the end of the 1950s, Damon plays a successful businessman living with his wife and 10 year-old son, and his sister-in-law, in a pristine, idyllic, storybook-like, small town enclosing a dream-creation of a perfect society. It starts off in a light tone but within five minutes something takes place which challenges the inhabitants' peace of mind, and within a further five minutes an event happens which hurtles us down to a very dark place. One cannot say much more because the surprises come tumbling on top of each other. The initial levity tries to return now and again but now that we've seen the dark underbelly, from about halfway it's futile to pretend that it's not there and so the darkness is left just to rip its way to the end. Some of the unexpectedness is very unpleasant indeed, with some violence and blood - while the several suspenseful moments are handled with great expertise, with tension screwed up tight almost to screaming point.
During the exposition we learn revelations about the central family, the attitudes of some of them - and far from questions being answered, the film concludes with more queries and imponderables hanging in the air than those with which we'd started - so not a film for those who like clean-cut endings.
It's a film that's going to haunt me for quite some time, so unsettling I found it. It clearly won't appeal to everyone and I can appreciate why it's engendered some of its hostility. But if you like a challenge and something to think about, even though having seen it you may be wishing you could get it out of your mind but can't, this is a film for you. Do I regret having taken the chance? Not at all...................7.
5 hours ago