I am strangely obsessed with the concept of American suburbs. I don’t think I could manage to live in one but it always blows my mind that something can feel so artificial but also very classic and weirdly cozy at the same time. You will just walk into a most characterless looking building and find yourself in one of the coziest restaurants you have ever seen. There will be Starbucks and its friends all over but also a very authentic looking old movie theater right by it. It is just unbelievable how a place can feel so dreamy but also suffocating at the same time. I recently spent two weeks in a suburb of Chicago where I also lived for a year as an AFS exchange student when I was 16. I found myself becoming slowly obsessed both with daytime (thanks to fall conditions) and night time lighting. I thought the daytime lighting brought up the artificial elements whereas the night time lighting turned the suburb into a movie set and also triggered a sort of a classic town feeling. I also highly recommend that you check out Franck Bohbot’s work who – I think – is the master of american lighting.
I enjoyed shooting there during my daily walks between home and the train station (which also looks very cool under night time lighting). The house (below photo) that I walked by everyday reminded me of a song by Marianne Faithful (one of my all time favourites) – the Ballad of Lucy Jordan also played in the movie Thelma and Louise. Below is a small selection of some of the photos I took during my walks and I thought it would also be nice to remember those beautiful lyrics.
“The morning sun touched lightly on the eyes of Lucy Jordan in a white suburban bedroom in a white suburban town. As she lay there ‘neath the covers dreaming of a thousand lovers till the world turned to orange and the room went spinning round. At the age of thirty-seven she realised she’d never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.So she let the phone keep ringing and she sat there softly singing.Little nursery rhymes she’d memorised in her daddy’s easy chair.
Her husband, he’s off to work and the kids are off to school. And there were oh so many ways for her to spend her days. She could clean the house for hours or rearrange the flowers. Or run naked through the shady street screaming all the way.
The evening sun touched gently on the eyes of Lucy Jordan on the roof top where she climbed when all the laughter grew too loud. And she bowed and curtsied tot he man who reached and offered her his hand, and her led her down to the long white car that waited past the crowd. At the age of thirty-seven she knew she’d found forever as she rode along through Paris with the warm wind in her hair…”
One of my favorite movies discussing the concept of american suburb is the Revolutionary Road featuring Kate Winslet. The movie is directed by Sam Mendes and is an adoption of Richard Yates novel. I also enjoyed all those commutes our Mad Man heroes and heroines had during all the six seasons between their fancy NYC offices and suburban homes. Unfaithful is also another good movie making you travel between a fancy suburb and NYC.