Spoilers need to suit up.
Film sub-genres of the past can be a blast to revisit. For this feature, we are treated to a gangster thriller that is also a chamber film. That is, a movie that takes place in one location. This one feels very much like a play. That being said, it’s very much a film about violent people and the most cool-headed craftsman that you will have the pleasure to learn from. It’s not an overly complicated thread of a plot, but one very carefully woven. Let’s see if this one is the right fit for you.
The Outfit (2022) was directed by Graham Moore, based on the screenplay he wrote with Johnathan McClain. Welcome to Chicago 1956 and learn the craft of English tailor, or “cutter” as he calls himself, Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance). He has a store where he makes suits for some dangerous clientele, a local mobster gang that keeps a drop box in the backroom. His receptionist is young Mable (Zoey Dutch) who has big dreams to travel the world. One fateful night, the mob’s chief enforcer Francis (Johnny Flynn) shows up with a wounded Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), who happens to be the son of the boss, Roy Doyle (Simon Russell Beale). Leonard’s perfectly cut world is then turned upside down.
This is one of those films where I don’t tell you much about what happens next or what the background of the characters is. Let’s just say there’s going to be something that everybody is looking for and someone that everyone wants to find. It is a mystery thriller where each character has an agenda and people must rely on outwitting each other to survive. The most interesting personality is Leonard himself, a character who would be in the sidelines in a gangster film but you can tell he is a man of many layers.
The idea of using one location, with events happening off screen means we have to rely on the characters themselves to know what’s going on, and why the power dynamic shifts. Mark Rylance’s performance of Leonard carries the movie throughout, although Zoey Dutch makes quite an impression as Mable. The twists and turns are not completely unexpected, but the execution is solid. The ending does contain one final confrontation that feels tacked on, as if added solely to add an action scene. I think that with some adequate framing, you could’ve up wrap it up without it.
Highly recommended for fans of crime thrillers with some mild reservation. It has an incredible performance by Mark Rylance and a great one by Zoey Dutch. Although a lot of the twists can be seen coming, the execution is rather crisp and solid. I do feel the ending has one additional confrontation we could’ve done without and just was added for added action thrills. I’d left that one in the cutting floor. Audiences looking for an action vehicle might feel shorted. Very much worth a watch.
That will do for now.