Walking into The Outfit, I had no clue what it was going to be about, other than that it was a crime drama. Directed by The Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore, this film tells a unique story that keeps you hooked the entire film.
The Outfit focuses on English tailor – or cutter – Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance). His shop is set in a rough part of the neighborhood, in the middle of a gangster war. Mable Shaun (Zoey Deutch) helps run his Chicago shop which features clients such as Francis (Johnny Flynn), Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), and Richie’s father Roy (Simon Russell Beale). The Boyles are one side of the gangster war, with the LaFontaine’s, led by Violet LaFontaine (Nikki Amuka-Bird) on the other. As the story progresses, we’re led through the climax of the war, but also the story of Leonard.
The plot for The Outfit doesn’t feel typical of a thriller. Instead, it feels more personal. It parses the intrinsic nature of Leonard throughout. There are inklings of it the whole way. You might feel stunted by the story in the beginning. But ultimately, everything tracks into one full-fledged story that works incredibly well. There are multiple directions the story can lead, but I love the way it plays out. For a film solely needing to use a singular building as a set it’s incredibly simple, but works. It boils down to the way the characters all play their parts.
One character that is just the absolute best is Leonard. Rylance puts a delightful spin on the story being told. Leonard is kind, a listener, and a fatherly figure to some of the characters involved. He can take a male customer coming in, and make them the perfect suit based on what they do. He allows the Boyles to use his shop for deals for the purposes of keeping himself and Mabel protected from any dealings around town. It’s because Rylance keeps the tempo steady, but also is able to switch his emotions up at will. It plays perfectly to the character Leonard truly is.
The main focal point of the film is the Boyle gang trying to figure out who is the mole. The FBI’s involved, the LaFontaines are involved, it’s a big to-do. This is the one part of the film that really irks me, but only because it goes on a little too long. Otherwise, the film is very tight-knit, and it gets a lot of support from its small, strong cast. Flynn is distracting as Francis, and Deutch pull off a strong second place to Rylance’s first.
Overall, The Outfit really is incredible. This one should absolutely be one to be in award conversations. However, it will probably fly under the radar since it’s a quarter one release. First-time director Graham Moore has written some pretty incredible scripts, but here’s to hoping he keeps directing. With one more week left in the first quarter of 2022, this is my number one film for the quarter. – Katie Rentschler
The Outfit is in theaters now.