News

Mark Rylance is a cut above the rest in a twisty, enjoyable old-style gangster flick


If, like me, you’re a fan of old-timey gangster flicks, this twisty, enjoyable new film starring Mark Rylance is probably going to scratch that itch. Graham Moore’s The Outfit is set in 50s Chicago, featuring warring mobs, shoot-outs, rats, and double-crosses galore. But it restrains all its action to the inside of an unlikely locus for its events: a tailor’s shop.

Rylance plays a devoted cutter/tailor known only to the Chicagoans as “English”, a seemingly soft-spoken gentleman who has a fatherly affection for his secretary Mabel (Zoey Deutch). He has long provided suits for the local mob boss and his son Richie (a hotheaded Dylan O’Brien), as well as their silently glowering compatriot Francis (Johnny Flynn).

When a sudden betrayal occurs on the shop floor during the search of a suspected rat, English is drafted into enforced silence, caught in the middle of a gang war that has made his shop into temporary HQ. When Mabel waltzes into this dangerous situation, it’s up to English to use his wits to save them both.

Nikki Amuka-Bird in Graham Moore’s The Outfit (Photo: Focus Features)

Told in the manner of a one-room stage, the plotting is superb, and the writing benefits from real polish. Sample dialogue: “You don’t know how to say one thing when you mean another? You’re English, I thought you were good at that.”

With a script like this, you can see why it attracted an actor of Rylance’s calibre and his performance is predictably excellent: a masterpiece of shifting allegiances and side-eyed appraisals. Unfortunately, not everyone is on that same plane, which is a real problem in such a self-contained, intense story.

Johnny Flynn falls disappointingly flat as a stone-cold killer; it’s an ambitious attempt at channelling a Tom Hagen-esque quiet menace, but Flynn seems to lack conviction or gravitas. As a result, what should be threatening comes across as rather limp, and the role is too pivotal to overlook.

More from Film

The aesthetics of the film are also bland: the visuals are shockingly unappealing: brown, spare, with a digital sheen that makes the well-appointed period costuming and production look modern and artificial.

The Outfit tells a great story – sure to keep viewers enthralled – but there are elements of its execution that fall by the wayside. I’m curious to see what Graham Moore does next: if he manages to pull together his directorial weaknesses, his storytelling abilities suggest a promising future.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.