‘THE OUTFIT’ is a movie shot inside only a single interior location and we thought it’s based on a stage play, but it turns to be an original screenplay by Graham Moore, who is best known for
“The Imitation Game” that won him as Oscar. It is a period gangster thriller set in 1956 in Chicago and is about warring syndicate mobs.
The whole film takes place inside a tailoring shop and all the action is limited within its confines. The tailor is Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance, Oscar-winner for “Bridge of Spies”), who says he is not a tailor but a cutter, since he himself cuts all the patterns of the suits he makes. He is originally from England but moved to America, the true reasons for which will be revealed much later.
The neighborhood where his shop is located is controlled by Irish mafia boss Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale), who uses his shop as a secret stash house for their illegal transactions. Dealing with him are Boyle’s chief henchman, Francis (Johnny Flynn), and Boyle’s own son, Ritchie (Dylan O’Brien), who is having an affair with Leonard’s pretty assistant, Mable (Zoey Deutch).
The movie happens only during one fateful night when Francis and Ritchie arrive at the shop, with Ritchie having been shot in the stomach after an encounter with their rival mob organization, the La Fontaine family, who are blacks. Ritchie is bleeding badly and Francis points a gun on Leonard to force him to stitch up and close Ritchie’s open wound.
Francis tells Leonard to guard a briefcase that contains an audio tape of an FBI recording that chronicles the illegal dealings of their own crime organization. This came from the Outfit, a bigger syndicate founded by the notorious Al Capone that aims to protect criminal elements from the law.
This is all we can share with you about the plot as anything else will criminally be a spoiler. Rest assured that there will be more shocking revelations as the film goes along. Francis and Dylan suspect that there’s a rat who betrayed them to the FBI and Leonard becomes embroiled in a gang war that made his shop the forefront.
Mable is also dragged into the whole mess because of her romance with Ritchie, putting her life in danger. It becomes Leonard’s responsibility to use his own wit and cunning to save them both from sure extinction in the hands of the warring mobs.
The movie works because the writing is splendid, with the self-contained but intricate plotting credibly unfolding before our eyes as Leonard plays off the various characters against each other.
And Rylance is just perfect in the lead role of the seemingly mild and harmless cutter-tailor who turns out to be shifting his allegiances in order to protect his own self.
At first, you’d think he is just keeping to himself while hunched over his sewing, but it turns out he is always watchful, even anticipating the moves of his foes. The movie becomes more and more intense and involving as the noose tightens on Leonard and Mable.
“The Outfit” offers fine period costume and production design, plus very good storytelling with contrivances that will keep you interested all throughout. It’s really quite a pleasure to watch a good yarn playing out in such sleek fashion on screen about a character who is just out to survive this unexpected night that is fraught with dangers.