By Catholic News Service
Failed black comedy, set in the Levittown-like suburb of the title during the early 1950s, in which a young boy (Noah Jupe) witnesses the murder of his mother (Julianne Moore) at the hands of a pair of brutish intruders (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell) during an unexplained home invasion. His father’s (Matt Damon) subsequent behavior as well as that of his mom’s twin sister (also Moore), who moves in with the widower, only make the situation more confusing for the lad and more suspicious for the police officer (Jack Conley) and insurance investigator (Oscar Isaac) assigned to the case. Awkwardly intertwined with the main story is a cautionary tale about intolerance that sees the community’s first black couple (Karimah Westbrook and Leith M. Burke) and their son (Tony Espinosa) besieged by angry white mobs intent on driving them out of the neighborhood.
Director George Clooney — who co-wrote the script with brothers Joel and Ethan Coen and Grant Heslov — paints a perversely dark picture of human nature from which, in the case of Damon’s character, even the most basic positive instincts are absent. His film, the nihilism of which many viewers of faith may consider offensive, also displays an elitist disdain for the lives of ordinary people.
A skewed outlook, occasionally shocking violence with considerable gore, some gruesome images, brief aberrant sexual behavior, a few uses of profanity, several rough and a handful of crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.