Step back in time to 1956 Chicago, where the gorgeous sepia-like cinematography sets the stage for L. Burling Bespoke, a seemingly mundane, but actually very intriguing tailor shop in The Outfit. Mark Rylance is outstanding as the proprietor Leonard, who emphasizes that he is not a tailor, but prefers to be called a cutter. Appearing prim and proper, Leonard points out that making a suit is much harder than one might imagine, with 38 pieces and 228 steps, but there is much more than sewing going on in this quaint shop.
Throughout the film, he meticulously measures and stitches quality suits, which he insists can make the man. Leonard is nicknamed “English” by likeable gangster Richie, portrayed by Dylan O’Brien. As he diligently stitches and cuts away, an assorted group of mobster types leave packages in a box, and what they contain is left to the imagination. With his dry wit, Leonard interacts with a variety of gentlemen, telling them he learned his craft on London’s prestigious Savile Row. You have to smile when he says he left because of blue jeans, made popular after the war by James Dean and known for their affordability.
His shop girl Mable, played deftly by Zoey Deutch, has a snow globe collection from around the world, and dreams of travelling to Paris and throughout Europe. With a father-daughter type relationship, they team up as an interesting pair, with Leonard fastidiously folding pocket squares and Mable haphazardly doing the task.
The entire movie takes place in the tailor shop, but there is still much to discover as you are immersed in the seemingly mundane setting. Even with a small cast, everyone is not who they appear to be — pay attention to the details. The neighborhood has multiple gangs, the Boyle crime family, the Lafontaines, and a third called The Outfit, which is touted as the underworld of the United Nations, supposedly started by Al Capone, with each vying for their turf. The mobster war heats up when they discover that someone is working with the FBI and has an incriminating cassette tape, which is cutting edge for the time. Trying to discover who the rat is provides all kinds of twists and deals to be made in the tailor shop, and keeps you guessing who will come out alive and unscathed.
During the final night, the web of lies becomes twisted, and you have to keep track of the truth and lies, especially as Francis, played sinisterly by Johnny Flynn, enters the picture. Leonard’s dark secret was unexpected, given his demeanor throughout the film. Only at the end do you discover who gets the money and who survives.
The costumes were perfect for the time period and were created by noted designer Zac Posen and Sophie O’Neal. Director Graham Moore was also a co-writer, and previously won an Oscar for writing The Imitation Game. The movie was shot on a sound-stage in London and there is already Oscar buzz for Rylance. A fellow moviegoer commented that the film was interesting, but not what he expected. Others said they loved the small scale of The Outfit and felt that being shot around one location would lend itself to make a good play as well.
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Genre: Crime, Drama
Director: Graham Moore
Actors: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, and Dylan O’Brien
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Rating: R (some language and violence)