Bringing us back some old school Al Capone-type gangster with it’s opening, director Graham Moore makes his directorial debut here with “THE OUTFIT”, giving us a proper whodunnit mystery that pops along at a decent pace without ever giving too much away.
Mark Rylance takes the lead here as Leonard Burling, a master tailor, or “cutter” as he says a tailor “sews buttons and does hems”. Leonard nicknamed “English” by some of his less than savoury customers, who immigrated over from the U.K., runs a small, high-end tailor shop in Chicago along with his assistant, Mabel (Zoey Deutch). As you watch, we note the shop is possibly also being used as a money drop point for local Irish gangster Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale). When son-of-the-boss Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), and his side henchman, Francis (Johnny Flynn), find an envelope with dangerous information from an organization known only by their insignia and secret name “The Outfit”. This makes the shop, along with Leonard himself, caught in the middle of a dangerous game between the rival gangs of the city, all of whom buy his suits.
With the entire film being shot in a single location is a wonderful choice here by Moore with the camera never leaving the confines of the shop, it allows us to see an the entire expansive world of the mystery unfolding before us, and recognizing small details that show up within to add to the makeup of the film. We watch as Leonard has to try to outwit these enemies to make it through the night, and within the singular walls of the store, it lets the characters develop, lets tension build, and keeps everything contained. As well, it let’s the production design sets the mood for the era and elegance within this high-end shop that it all takes place in. The costume design is beautifully done and hits the era of men wearing hats with their beautifully tailored suits, with the musical score helps keep pace with all that is going on around with each character in the shop.
Good acting by the two leads, Mark Rylance who is such a treasure as an actor, and just the gem that makes this film shine, along with Zoey Deutch, who gives her role a snark of sarcasm and confidence that makes one take note. The supporting cast of O’Brien, whose thick Chicago wise-guy accent is distracting at first as it’s so overdone, but he turns it all around with his good turn for the dramatic here, as well Flynn who plays his backstabbing best friend who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get to the top. Adding in a nice surprise at the end with Nikki Amuka-Bird as Violet, leader of her own Chicago-bred gang, brings a bold note to the film, all the while keeping us guessing as to her true intentions. Note here again to costume design, as Amuka-Bird is flawless in her hat/coat of the time look.
While not without it’s distractions, ‘The Outfit is not a film of ‘big’ moments happening or filled with big shoot outs or heavy violence, if you’re looking for the tommy gun shootouts between men in big suits riding side-car on cars while shooting up the streets, this is not your movie. If you’re looking for sophisticated decently done whodunnit that unfolds with time, this is your watch and I hope it doesn’t fly under anyone’s radar as it deserves to be watched.
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Review Screening: Monday, March 7, 2022 ~Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR
Focus Features will release THE OUTFIT in theaters this Friday March 18, 2022