Mark Rylance really is one of our unsung talents…
“The Outfit” is the directorial debut of Graham Moore (who won the Oscar in 2014 for his “Imitation Game” screenplay), and follows a tailor in 1950s Chicago (Mark Rylance) who gets caught-up in the aftermath of a mob shootout. Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O’Brien, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Simon Russell Beale also star.
“The Imitation Game” is a somewhat divisive film, as many point to its historical inaccuracies and tacked-on third act messages as detractors. I, however, really enjoyed the script (and film itself), with Graham Moore coming up with some great one-liners and dry wit. He brings some of that same flair here to his rookie directorial effort, and while it is clear that this is a film shot amid a pandemic on a limited budget, there are still little joys to be found.
Mark Rylance won an Oscar for 2015’s “Bridge of Spies” (I was blown away by his role there) and has since appeared in smaller parts for the likes of Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and Adam McKay (I thought he stole the show in “Don’t Look Up”). Getting to lead the way and appear in every scene here, Rylance is quiet, professional, and unassuming as a cutter (not a tailor, as he repeatedly points out), however as the night goes on it is clear that he has more up his sleeve than just a finely-woven suit. There are several points that Rylance says more with a glance or a nod than with his words, and it isn’t every actor could make a film of this size work as effectively as he does.
The rest of the cast does their job, with Zoey Deutch bringing her normal awkward charm and Dylan O’Brien adding a touch of gravatas (though he spends half the film bleeding out on a table).
Speaking of that, the scene where Rylance is forced to operate on a stomach-shot O’Brien is queasy and effective, and one of the best-handled of the film by Graham. There are other parts that are a bit workmanlike, as to be expected from a debut director, but sequences like the operation show that Moore could have a future in writing words and directing them.
The costumes and sets are pretty basic (I kept getting “Motherless Brooklyn” vibes), and it’s not so much that they are bland so much as just flat. They don’t draw the eye or have an incredible amount of detail, and since the entire film takes place inside a tailor shop over the course of about five hours, there isn’t much of the world to get immersed into.
“The Outfit” is an undemanding gangster film with some good writing, clever twists, and solid performances. It offers its director and star a chance to flex their muscles, and should give fans of the genre all the thrills and intrigue they desire, so long as their expectations are checked at the door.
Critics Rating: 7/10