By Matt DeCristo | Columnist
“The Outfit” could be described as a period piece, literally taking place in 1956. From a figurative standpoint it also brings us back to gangster/crime films that reigned over the ‘90s. The script was written by Graham Moore and Johnathan McClain. Moore also makes his directorial debut and shows incredibly promise. The dialogue is sound with much of the plot revolving around tension and mystery.
The characters are great. Costumes and accents make the viewer feel they are back in the days of old. There’s a certain noir flavor that will keep you fixated on the screen at all times. The entire film takes place in a single location; a cutter’s shop in a Chicago neighborhood controlled by the Irish mafia.
Mark Rylance stars as Leonard Burling. Burling is a sixty-year-old cutter – a term I was unfamiliar with but is comically explained throughout the story. We know a lot about this man from the writing, and from Rylance’s performance. He immigrated to Chicago after WWII. He is a perfectionist with his craft. He speaks and acts in a refined sort of way. He keeps to himself, letting his craft speak for itself. Burling also lets his shop be a safe house for local thugs. Rylance is outstanding. From his numerous narrations to his interactions with an assortment of gangsters.
Zoey Deutch plays Mable, Burling’s secretary. I loved this casting decision as well. The characters themselves have a great relationship. Burling is a father-figure to Mable. Mable does her best to keep Burling’s life interesting. Zoey Deutch looks the part of a ‘50s era dame. She fits in the noir style that engulfs the film.
Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, Simon Russell Beale, and Nikki Amuka-Bird play various criminals that interact with Burling. Flynn’s character of Frances being particularly memorable. The catalyst for the story revolves around the different criminals attempting to retrieve a tape that will identify a rat. It’s standard mobster stuff.
The filmmaking aspects are visually appealing. The setting and wardrobes couple with artistic shots and framing choices to make for an excellent watch. The movie has a unique aspect with its pacing. Heavy bouts of dialogue and backstory are occasionally interrupted with brief moments of fury. The tension is perfect as we wait. The score is timeless.
My only criticism comes from the third act. At 106 minutes, I actually wanted the movie to be a little longer, not a typical complaint of mine. The ultimate finale felt a bit rushed. One more interaction with Burling. One more sect of criminals to get involved. It left me wanting more.