The Outfit (2022)
The Outfit (2022)

Genre: Crime Drama and Mystery Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: March 18th, 2022 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Graham Moore Actors: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Mehdizadeh, Nikki Amuka-Bird

 


 

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nglishman Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance) makes only the finest of suits in 1950s Chicago. But he’s not a tailor (a demeaning term for virtually anyone who can sow); rather, he’s a cutter, as he crafts bespoke items from scratch, not merely busying himself with simple alterations or adjustments. In fact, as he puts it to the audience, there are 228 steps required to piece together a suit – no trifling task. “All clothing says something.”

Along with his pretty young assistant, Mable (Zoey Deutch), the two run a quaint shop, though their main clientele consists of local mobsters, who use the place to leave payments and trade secretive communications. Leonard tries not to concern himself with their comings and goings, especially considering how valuable these particular patrons are to the business, but some of the brutes are more grating than others. Richie (Dylan O’Brien) and Francis (Johnny Flynn) are two of the less manageable, ungentlemanly types, tending to stir up minor inconveniences when they stop in to rummage through the drop box. And on one fateful night, when the duo bursts in at an ungodly hour, with Richie nursing a bullet wound and Francis safeguarding a briefcase, Leonard is going to get far more involved than he could have ever imagined.

He’s worldly and deadpan (and passionate about cutting), while she’s naive and hungry for adventure (and thoroughly disinterested in the profession); but they make for a moderately engaging, unlikely pair, thrust into the midst of gangland warfare. Moving slowly at first to build up these two main characters, it quickly becomes evident that Leonard knows a bit more than he lets on; a hint of a mystery unfolds, but it tends to resemble psychological games and careful manipulation as opposed to a straightforward whodunnit. “It’s gonna be a long night.”

Strangely, despite the initial introduction of distasteful ruffians and seemingly helpless innocents, humor crops up at odd moments, not just in brief exchanges but also in unexpected acts, as if channeling “Arsenic and Old Lace” – but without the overt slapstick. At least it’s unpredictable, even if it’s thematically unfitting. But then Leonard’s narration interrupts some more, detailing various steps in assembling custom duds, which becomes tedious when it’s already so evident that “The Outfit” has nothing to do with tailoring and everything to do with murder and deception.

Toward the climax, the film reveals a few thrilling, impulsive determinations, though they’re steeped in convenient, timely coincidences. Yet no matter how clever it may appear, with unguessable revelations on the horizon, viewers aren’t made a part of the process, instead relegated to merely sitting back and taking it all in during the denouement (in contrast to something like 1972’s “Sleuth,” in which everything takes place chronologically onscreen). It’s once again an exercise in conveying to the audience that they’re not intelligent enough to follow the various machinations as they occur; they must endure considerable exposition and explanations after the fact, chronicling the various players’ involvements during the increasingly more chaotic night. Fortunately, however, Rylance is an exceptional lead, managing a natural sympathy in his feigned harmlessness, while the use of a single set and very few personas creates the feel of an intimate stage play, aiding the character development and the suspense of erratic violence (much of which appears as a levelheaded condemnation of gangsterism).

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10