Directed by Graham Moore. Cast: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O’Brien, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Simon Russell Beale. 15, 105 minutes.
“It’s not art; It’s a craft” is a phrase used by crime drama hero Leonard (Mark Rylance). The outfitto describe his work. Above all, he is precise in his work. Call him a tailor, never a tailor. He’s not just a handyman who hemmed pants and reattached buttons—he’s a textile surgeon, an engineer with a needle and thread. There are 38 separate pieces that make up a well-tailored suit. And in putting those pieces together, Leonard thinks he can appreciate a man’s measure.
It’s 1956 and Leonard has opened a store in Chicago. He claims he was pushed out of London’s Savile Row by the blue jean boom – if you want to believe that. A group of men still devoted to the art of fine dressing are the town’s gangsters, and so Leonard’s salon has become a little detective paradise, where secret messages are left in mailboxes while the owner sits quietly in the corner oiling his scissors and looking the other way. One night, Richie (Dylan O’Brien), the aspiring son of one of the local bosses, Roy (Simon Russell Beale), walks in with a bullet in his stomach and his slippery sidekick Francis (Johnny Flynn) in tow. They carry a briefcase containing an incriminating tape that hints at the identity of a potential rat in their crime family.
The outfit, the directorial debut of Graham Moore, who co-wrote the screenplay with Johnathan McClain, feels carefully molded around Leonard’s mindset. It’s primarily a cinematic craft, not an art – although that doesn’t necessarily have to be a derogatory label, as there is so much joy to be found in its construction (though admittedly the very last twist takes things a little too far). Just like one of Leonard’s suits, we see how many individual parts – characters, clues and revelations – come together harmoniously into a whole. We constantly have to guess who the rat is and who is really in control of the situation. Moore’s camera almost never leaves the confines of Leonard’s shop, handsomely clad in rich woods and creamy tones by production designer Gemma Jackson, allowing the entire film to play out like an extended cowboy showdown.
Moore, who won an Oscar for his screenplay The imitation game, seems particularly interested in males who are geared towards observing rather than leading or speaking. Even when Leonard is chatting with his semi-captors, his words seem pretty weightless, as if they’re simply filling the air while his mind quietly calculates his next move. In a way, he’s like a chess master, and few actors could maintain that magnetic stillness quite like Rylance, who always seems to be expressing so much while doing so little. O’Brien and Flynn also make good opponents – complete opposites with their wiry, shy energy.
If Leonard has a talent for sentimentality, he saves it for his receptionist, Mable (Zoey Deutch), who is seen as a deliberately feminist archetype of the soft-hearted innocent who is smarter than she lets on. And it feels a little underwhelming, like it was done just out of necessity, that Nikki Amuka-Bird’s Violet LaFontaine shows up towards the end to lecture the other characters on the racial dynamics of the city’s crime syndicates. Violet’s dialogue is the first and only time The outfit really makes an effort to look beyond the little drama that is unfolding inside Leonard’s store and out at the world outside. Real lives and emotions are messy, unfit for The outfit‘s meticulously manufactured thrills.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/the-outfit-review-mark-rylance-b2052693.html The Outfit Review: Mark Rylance is a perfect fit for this sophisticatedly crafted crime drama