The November Blogs: The Outfit

The Outfit is Graham Moore’s directorial debut and it does not show at All. Scripted by Moore and Jonathan McClain, The film, all set inside Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance)’s Chicago tailor’s shop is as precise and methodical as Burling. Just as ruthless too.

Burling is a polite, gentle man with a sparky assistant and the protection of the local mob boss. Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale) is as old school as they come and so is Roy. The avuncular gangster likes the gently wry Englishman’s style, and loves his suits. Richie (Dylan O’Brien), Roy’s heir prefers Mable (Zoey Deutch), Burling’s assistant. Francis (Johnny Flynn), Roy’s number one guy and Richie’s right hand man, keeps his mouth shut. For a while.

In the space of one set, and one evening, all Hell breaks loose. Richie is shot in a confrontation with a rival crime family and Francis brings him to Burling’s store. There’s a wiretap recording from a mole in the Boyle organization. It’s in the wild and everyone wants it. But everyone could be the mole, from Burling and Mable to Roy Boyle and all of them are going to be stopping by the shop in a blood-soaked, white-knuckle night that plays like the world’s most terrifying high-stakes farce.

The genius of The Outfit lies in its precision. Rylance is an actor I’ve often struggled with but his gentle, methodical mannerisms here are a suit that fits Leonard Burling perfectly. Rylance gives the tailor a single thread of darkness too and it’s a rare treat to see a moive like this where the main character feels both dangerous and endangered. He’s the head of a parade of excellent other performances too, with Beale’s elder statesthug and O’Brien’s feral chihuahua of a son and heir both tremendous fun.

The movie is stolen by Deutch and Flynn though. Flynn’s Francis feels like a film noir protagonist took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up in a modern movie. He talks in that way no one does and everyone sounds like they do and his bone dry wit complements Rylance perfectly.

Zoey Deutch and Mark Rylance as Mable and Leonard in The Outfit

Deutch’s Mable is a fast-talking, tough young woman who, like everyone, is hiding every card in her hand. Her scenes with Rylance spark with a subtle familial humour and there’s a sense of these two mildly adrift souls enjoying each other’s company even as they’re aware of how fast their situation is changing. In a movie full of rich characters, Mable and Burling feel like the two who could appear elsewhere. After all, everyone needs a suit sooner or later.Theatrically staged, shot with the same care and respect as Burling handles his fabrics and filled with tremendous performances, The Outfit is an immaculately designed thriller that feels like the start of tremendous careers for Flynn and Deutch and the next stage of those careers for Beale, Rylance, O’Brien and Nikki Amuka-Bird. Playing like something between a violent cover version of Waiting for Godot and John Wick costume drama it’s one of the most entertaining and self-aware movies I’ve seen this year. Immaculately tailored to the last frame.The Outfit is available on disc and to stream now.

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