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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

The Outfit | film


Writer: Johnathan McClain & Graham Moore

Director: Graham Moore

Director of Photography: Dick Pope

Starring: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O'Brien, Johnny Flynn, Nikki Amuka-Bird, & Simon Russell Beale

Released: March 18, 2022

Set in Chicago not long after Al Capone was in charge of The Outfit - a prominant organization in mafia history; a tailor shop owner (Mark Rylance) has a run-in with two of his frequent customers (Dylan O'Brien & Johnny Flynn) that start a domino of events that have the audience wondering if he will survive the night.

Recommendation: If you enjoy mafia stories, double meanings, and the art of editing, this is for you.

SPOILER WARNING: This review does contain spoilers.

If you wish to remain spoiler free, then do not read past this point.

The title is just one example of the double meanings found in this film. The Outfit was a prominate mafia organization, started by "Diamond Jim" in 1895. The Outfit is also a reference to where this entire film takes place - a tailor shop. The entire film gives the impression of a double meaning with how it opens and closes. At the top the impression we are given is that we're getting a look into what it is like to be a tailor - or a cutter as Rylance's character corrects every time someone refers to him as a tailor - more specifically the process of crafting a suit.

With the step by step portion at the top of the film, it sets us up to pay more attention to the colors the other characters are wearing. It's pointed out that those who wear gray are looking to be less noticed than those who choose other colors. The characters that stand out from a costuming stand point are portrayed by Ryland, O'Brien, and Deutch. For the majority of the film, Ryland is in a dress shirt, a vest, and slacks. It's only at the end that we actually see him in a suit, and he opt for a gray suit. O'Brien is in a navy suit, which naturally stands out amongst the gray. Deutch primarily wears red, which highlights her role in the story.

The story is somewhat of a slow burn, but what keeps it from being a complete slow burn is the editing. There are moments when we get small glimpses into the future, but you don't always realize that what you're seeing corresponds with what the dialogue is leading up to. The editing also helps guide you but keep you guessing at the same time about who is actually telling the truth.

There are quite a few aspects of the film that suggest it could be a stage production. It only exists in one location - the tailor shop, which can be broken down into really three small sets that have the potential for fitting on the stage at once or on a rotating stage to fit the moment. It takes place primarily over the course of one night - the setup appears to cover a couple days before the inciting incident. The last thing that recommends it for the stage is how small the cast is - there are minimal extras, and the most you see on screen at one time is four or five characters.

The final twist of the film adds to the small amount of emphasis that was placed on the fact that Rylance's character is a cutter, not a tailor. Because we get to see the "final reveal" of the cutter's past. By all appearances, it looks like he was once a part of a branch of the mafia too. Which explains a lot of the resourcefulness that enabled him to survive the night with the mafia members who threatened his life.

I really appreciate how timeless this story feels. As if you could swap out the characters, but tell the same story and it would breathe the small amount of new life it would need to capture the audience's attention.

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