In 1950s Chicago, Mark Rylance’s Leonard Burling plies his trade as a gentlemen’s tailor. Discreet, fastidious and committed, his suits are loving works of art. However, in the backroom of his store, there is a different kind of adherence. Men, not customers, come and go without so much as a smile, word or a greeting as they drop sealed envelopes into a post box on the wall.
You see, this is because, in mob-controlled Chicago, the veneer of Leonard’s tailor shop is a convenient and unsuspecting location for the stashing of illegal cash. However, Leonard himself wants no part of it. Reticent to the point of being invisible, he just wants to make suits with the minimum of fuss around him.
However, fuss has a habit of weaving itself inside even the tidiest of seams. Particularly so, when the son of a local mob boss arrives in Leonard’s store, shot and bleeding…
The Outfit is a work of consummate precision.
In keeping with the nature of its protagonist, director Graham Moore‘s The Outfit is a work of consummate precision. Opening with Mark Rylance’s Leonard assembling one piece at a time, the detail is as exquisite as is Rylance’s disappearance inside a man who would rather forget his past.
In an escalating clockwork ballet or accusation and counter insinuation, The Outfit becomes a memorable chamber piece with its temperature set to max. With its ingredients of enveloped secrets and petty resentments, all stowed within Leonard’s workshop, there’s little room for any of its characters to find their way out of the blast radius.
Mark Rylance delivers such deliberate restraint as Leonard that you instantly accept him for both the craftsman he’s playing and the values he tries to stick to. Johnny Flynn, now shorn of his Starman and Operation Mincemeat‘s spy-in-waiting, Ian Fleming, brings a terrifically bristling presence as mob enforcer, Francis. Yet, the real challenge to Rylance’s Leonard is the arrival of Simon Russell Beale as mob capo, Roy Boyle. Neck shrunken back inside the collar of his winter coat, Beale’s Chicago-inflected drawl skewers all those around him with eyeballs spitting out cocktail sticks.
-Who is the rat? Who is the one responsible for everything that is, will and has happened on this solitary, snowy night? In the Outfit’s heightening sense of paranoia, there’s always a person to blame, maim or kill for every bad deed that has been done.
So, whilst all of this powder-dry fury set inside a single location might make The Outfit feel like a play set upon the silver screen, Graham Moore and Johnathan McClain‘s script is so good, you’ll hunger for as meaty fare the next time you settle down infront of a movie.
A machiavellian masterclass that keeps on giving up to and beyond what you might think is possible, this is a story matched only by the class of its cast as their stories ebb back and forth from the real truth.