The Outfit (2022) Movie Review
Crime / Thriller
The Outfit, a stylish and unpredictable whodunit, is a rare gem in the world of movies. It's a meticulously crafted film that is as well put together as a bespoke suit. Graham Moore, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Imitation Game in 2015, makes his directorial debut with this film, and he does so with poise and precision.
Moore, along with co-writer Johnathan McClain, creates a gradually thickening plot that rarely shows its seams. The film is a puzzle that invites the audience to unravel the mystery inside an intimate, handsomely smoky Chicago outfitter dressing its wealthy clientele in the 1950s. The mastermind behind the small yet exclusive bespoke is Leonard Burling, played unnervingly stiff-upper-lipped and poker-faced by Mark Rylance, who is as brilliant here as he was in Bridge of Spies. Burling is a Savile Row-trained cutter who left his London home after WWII to set up shop in the States. Despite facing odds, he found his groove back in his Windy City atelier after some secret tragedy. As long as you don't call him a tailor, and refer to him accurately as a cutter, all will be well.
But Burling's predictable life spent mostly in an exquisitely detailed backroom, around a cutting table which Burling treats like an operation bed as he works with rolls of deluxe fabric with surgical precision, is anything but predictable. Gangsters, particularly the Boyle family, frequently populate his joint, using his workshop as a safe communication hub to drop messages and packages for their crime family members. Burling keeps a low profile and minds his own business alongside these crooked comings and goings, trying to set a father-figure example for his shop assistant Mable, whom he sees as a daughter. But he seems a lot more than he admits. Meanwhile, Mable, played terrifically by Zoey Deutch, has her own plans. She can't wait to get out of Chicago and maybe head for Paris. And she seems to be committed to doing whatever it takes for her dreams.
As the pieces trickle in over the course of a day or so, we find out about a rivaling crime family, an elite crime organization called "the outfit" that Boyles want to become a part of, as well as a possible rat, recording incriminating conversations on a new thing called a cassette and passing them onto the FBI. What could possibly go wrong when things like murder, money, and romantic stakes are involved?
Part of the fun of The Outfit is its continually self-renewing demeanor that keeps the viewers guessing until its final moment. Graham Moore does an excellent job orchestrating the film's mysteries with a watchful eye. He transforms what could have been a stage play into something magically cinematic. There is a lot of detail in what Moore chooses to show versus hide, which face he focuses on, and how he goes about blocking his scenes.
The film's costumes are equally impressive, crafted with dizzying period accuracy by Sophie O'Neill and the famous fashion designer Zac Posen. They bring the 1950s to life, and the attention to detail is astounding. The film's single-location setting, Burling's workshop, is dressed with the magical touch of production designer Gemma Jackson in earthy tones of creams, camels, and browns. It feels like you've been transported to another time and place.
In the end, you leave The Outfit feeling like you've seen something rich, ravishing, and sumptuous. For a film that goes about its business through such limited resources, that's quite a triumph. The Outfit is a film that is well worth your time and attention.
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