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past the feeling

Spike Jonze Directs Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs,’ Finds Darkness There

The first half of Spike Jonze's video for Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is simple enough: a gang of teenagers biking around the suburbs, goofing off, shooting BB guns, roughhousing, enjoying each other's company. As with Where the Wild Things Are, Jonze is great at capturing the motion of being young. But what seems like a sweet and nostalgic ride around the cul de sac gets darker as the video progresses: The kids are shooting BB guns at heavily armed soldiers and cops, Homeland Security–looking types who are making their presence felt in the burbs (and who are also played by Arcade Fire's own Win Butler and Régine Chassagne). If at first the law seems part of the scenery, halfway through they get more active making sketchy, scary nighttime stops and throwing the teens up against hurricane fences to search them. The kid with the girlfriend gets arrested, and after that experience, a severe haircut, and a bad house party, he ends up beating his other friend senseless inside a fast-food restaurant. The suburbs, they've got a dark side. This video may not be the movie Spike Jonze and Arcade Fire promised, but we're not complaining.