Arlington Road

Directed by Mark Pellington
Written by Ehren Kruger

Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, Mason Gamble, Spenser Treat Clark, Stanley Anderson.

In this pre 9/11 psychological thriller, Bridges plays Michael Faraday – a professor of terrorism at George Washington University. He is a widower, whose wife was an FBI agent, killed in a domestic terrorist attack. When he begins to believe his new neighbor Oliver Lang (Robbins) may not be all he seems, Michael begins to careen out of control, and his new girlfriend (Davis), and somewhat friend, and his late wife’s FBI partner,(Gossett) try desperately to change his mind. But is he right?

Exceptionally well directed film, at times almost feels like I was watching a play with the way Pellington played with the lighting at times, especially in some of the tense scenes with Michael. There was also some really interesting camera angles used, such as at the hospital scene in the beginning – and some well utilized extreme close up shots that emphasized some scenes (such as a close up shots of characters eyes while they are spying).

The acting is exceptional from all those involved, and this may be a career best from Cusack as the supporting wife of Robbins. Bridges turns it up to 110%, and is at times a bit over the top, which is evident right from the start (again in the hospital scene at the beginning) but this may be a creative choice to show what kind of character he is.

There are a couple of very out of left field narrative developments that occur throughout the film. Without giving away the ending, when one such storylines did occur, I wondered how there would be a comeuppance for those who transpired it. Minor spoiler, but this has got to be one of the greatest and most surprising endings to a movie I have ever seen. Kruger was practically everywhere in the late 90’s and this is his best film I have watched of his.

The score, from recently departed Angelo Badalamenti, is absolutely astonishing, and only serves to intensify the mood throughout the film. There are also some very impressive action car chase scenes, that combined with the score will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Some minor negatives are some standard cliché’s that always occur in films (the phone cutting out right as someone is trying to say something important) – but other than that, I really enjoyed this, even 25 years after my first watch.

Criminally underrated, and possibly even for gotten or unknown, this is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it.



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