In an idyllic suburban town in 1959, a seemingly mild-mannered family man (Matt Damon) hatches a plan with his sister-in-law (Julianne Moore) to kill his wife, send his son to military school and flee together to Aruba. However, they were not counting on an inquisitive insurance investigator (Oscar Isaac) delaying them getting their money that they also need to pay-off the violent hit men they hired.
Given the level of talent involved, as well as the actors on show you have a Coen brothers script and George Clooney behind the camera, this could have been a classic. There is potential for a Double Indemnity style plot with darkly comic overtones but the film never really rises above the level of average.
There are a number of jarring tonal shifts between extremely bloody violence and attempts at humour that rarely work. The notable exception being when Damon tries to knock off Isaac. In fact, almost all the best scenes in the film involve Isaac, and he is the best thing on show here.
A subplot involving the hysterical reaction of residents to a black family moving into the neighbourhood is interesting but it has no link to the main story and would have been better-off in another film.
This is not the disaster that fevered right wing nut job bloggers, who look for any chance to kick Clooney ever since he directed the brilliant Good Night and Good Luck, are claiming. I was never bored and had sufficient interest in where the story was going, but such illustrious film makers should have provided something much better.
Rating: 6 out of 10