REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Outfit’ bogged down by plotting issues

The Chicago crime scene of years gone by is brought to life on a small scale in this bottle film.

Graham Moore makes his feature directorial debut with “The Outfit,” which centers on Leonard (Mark Rylance), an Englishman who owns a tailor shop in Chicago. The film’s protagonist runs an honest business, with the help of his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch).

However, he has also set up a post box at his establishment used by crime organizations to communication. One night, this decision becomes a problem, as mafia members who’re customers of Leonard’s store begin using the shop as a place to go during a gang war. Leonard is then placed in a tense situation with dangerous men.

“The Outfit” certainly isn’t a movie void of suspense. More often than not, the protagonists share the room with criminals, with the barrel of a gun staring at them. Leonard’s attempts to keep it cool and play along so things don’t get out of hand makes for some engaging moments.

However, for a movie taking place in just one, simple setting, the plot gets to be too complex for its own good. As more is revealed, the film turns into a rather convoluted affair, with major reveals feeling either contrived or too convenient.

As a result, what really ends up shining here more than the double-crossing and clever ploys are the simple character interactions. For example, a moment where Leonard is talking about tools of the trade with a mafia boss, his being shears and the mobster’s being a gun, is a highlight.

OutfitBlog
Courtesy FilmNation Entertainment and Focus Features.

Rylance, an Academy Award winner, does a lot of heavy lifting in the production. His opening monologues about the craft of being a fabric cutter and the way he portrays his character’s craft is fascinating.

He plays the character precisely well. Leonard is a man who’s been through a lot in life, so while he’s dealing with an intense situation, it’s believable that he can manage to keep a level head.

The supporting cast doesn’t bring the same gravitas to the movie, though. Dylan O’Brien and Johnny Flynn are laying the Chicago accents on a bit too thick, almost to the point where they push the line of mobster parody.

The film can certainly win one over visually at least, as the aesthetic is completely on point. The shop has a dimly lit, vintage, rustic charm to it, and the costumes look straight out of the era.

The camerawork is solid as well. The film never looks stale despite being in one location and scenes with meticulous activities, like a character getting makeshift stitches, are shot nicely.

“The Outfit” has a lot working in its favor, from Rylance’s performance to how it looks. However, the issues with how the story plays out and some of the work by the supporting cast bring this one down a level. 2.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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