Reel Reviews | The Outfit

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

Mark Rylance is an expert English tailor who finds himself caught in a deadly situation with some very dangerous Chicago gangsters, The Outfit.

Leonard (Mark Rylance) is an expert tailor, a “cutter” as he defines himself.  He has moved from England and set up a reputable shop in Chicago in 1956.  His unassuming shop also happens to be the location of a dropbox for the local crime family.  Leonard pays little attention to the box and more attention to his assistant Mable (Zoey Deutch) who wants to travel the world but has never left Chicago.  Unfortunately, Mable seems to have become involved with Richie (Dylan O’Brien) the son of the crime boss that comes regularly to the shop to empty the dropbox.  One day, a letter appears in the box with a strange stamp on it from “The Outfit.”  The letter claims that someone in the organization is giving information to the authorities.  The next day a tape of the information being leaked arrives.  After a violent search for “the rat” occurs, Richie and Francis (Johnny Flynn) come into the shop and demand the tailor stitch up Richie’s bullet wound.  Now, with the authorities and a warring crime family in search of Richie and the tape he possesses, can Leonard and Mable survive the night?

Written by Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) and Johnathan McClain, The Outfit stars Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, and Simon Russell Beale.  This is Graham Moore’s first foray into the directing of a feature-length film with only the experience of directing one short film on his resumé.

With a film noir-like, this one is, the temptation is to shoot it in black and white.  Graham Moore makes an excellent decision in keeping this film in color.  The muted color palette Graham uses enhances the worn fabric feel of the film.  While the audience never leaves the setting of the bespoke, it becomes a testament to the owner and his unassuming character. 

Moore also paces the film well.  Even though the run time is not extremely long, the film never drags and always has tension.  He introduces us to each character sufficiently to reveal their initial details while holding just enough to allow each to develop throughout their upcoming scenes. 

Oscar-winner, Mark Rylance is delightful in this film.  He plays the muted but significant character of Leonard with precision.  It is very reminiscent of the work he did to win his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in Bridge of Spies.  Leonard is unflappable and constant even in the face of impending danger.  Rylance’s work throughout the film only intensifies the character reveal in the penultimate scene of the film.

Therein lies the one negative point of the film.  The penultimate scene is really unnecessary.  The film would have been a classic without it however, it is understandable that the addition of that one scene will serve to connect and draw more of the current movie viewing population.  Ultimately, the scene undermines the story of a simple tailor being able to outwit a bloodthirsty gang of thugs.

Nevertheless, rated R for some bloody violence and language throughout, The Outfit is an almost perfect film noir, classic in a lot of its ways but very stylish and modern in others.  The story is very good and the cinematography is excellent.  This is a wonderful film to watch if nothing else than for the performances of Rylance and Moore.  It is well worth a trip to the theater.

The Outfit is in theaters on March 18. 

Grade:  B+