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Alex Reynolds reviews “The Outfit”

Alex Reynolds reviews “The Outfit”

Alex Reynolds

Is it wearing apparel, or a group of guys? Actually, the title references both. “The Outfit” may not be the most compelling mob crime story (think ”The Godfather” or “The Irishman”), but as Graham Moore’s directorial debut (also co-screenplay writer), it is entertaining, bolstered in large part by an effecting performance by the notable Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance.

In a composed manner, the Oscar winner dominates as Leonard, a reserved custom tailor with Savile Row expertise and a storied past, who closes up shop, crosses the pond, relocating his business in 1950s Chicago which unexpectedly becomes a center for mob activity.

The drama, playing out over the course of a long night, starts simply, but things keep getting thrown into the mix and pretty soon the viewer is caught in a puzzle of who is telling the truth, who is playing who, and who the actual baddie is. The characters tend to underestimate Leonard as old and weak, though we gradually observe, he is neither.

The film plays out like a theater presentation with all the scenes taking place within the walls of the shop. The rooms sequences were shot on a soundstage and filmed chronologically enabling Rylance to slowly unveil layers of his character in keeping with the unfolding tension-filled narrative. Viewers, as well as the characters, become aware that Leonard is not the simple man he appears to be at first. Rylance’s thespian skills reveal masterful nuanced gestures, facial expressions and dialogue delivery. He’s a joy to watch.

“The Outfit” seems a throwback to those old-school gangster potboilers, twisting and turning through unexpected story lines and even unanticipated humor which lightens the load of built up tenson. However, the film really spins on the cast, spear headed by Rylance (Support Actor Oscar, “Bridge of Spies”, 2015). A fellow Shakespearean artist, Simon Russell Beale, appears as a mob boss, complicating Leonard’s tailoring endeavors.

First time director Graham Moore’s opus is well tailored, a thriller that fits, just like the Savile Row suits only his gangster mob customers can afford, but certainly you can enjoy.

A REMEMBRANCE

The Brott baton is placed on a sheaf of sheet music, the notes still ringing in the ear.

The maestro is remembered as an energetic musical beacon in a traditional tough town known and celebrated for steel and football. Boris embraced them, but added a culture of classical music that made Hamilton renowned internationally.

We wonder why a pleasant stroll within sight of his residence would bring tragedy. We mourn….I mourn, the maestro’s passing, recalling our many radio/television conversations, and the number of concert performances I hosted.

The Boris legacy is a monument of music for Hamilton, but widely admired.

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