The Outfit

Leonard Burling is a tailor who trained on London’s legendary Savile Row, but in the mid-1950s he found himself spending day and night in his Chicago workshop, where he emigrated after the war. Meticulous and of few words, he tailors fine suits for his clients and turns a blind eye to the Boyle family gangsters who use his business as a base for exchanging messages. Until the shop becomes the scene of a more serious matter, involving the assistant Mable and the arrival of the fiery Richie, son of the boss Roy Boyle.
A clockwork thriller too eager to mirror itself in its own narrative device, the directorial debut of the novelist and screenwriter Graham Moore (his script for The Imitation Game which won an Oscar) combines the codes of the period gangster movie with the contemporary fascination for old-school tailoring, already responsible for the bizarre generational short-circuit associated with the King’s Man saga.
There are therefore copious off-screen monologues with which a Mark Rylance (almost baroque in his understatement) draws parallels between the meticulous art of constructing a suit and the mythology of a character full of resources and attentive to every detail.
Moore’s screenplay has a certain theatrical quality in its handling of time and space rarely seen in the genre; no doubt the author takes great pleasure in orchestrating events to build tension and intrigue in a long night at the tailor’s shop, with characters coming and going and an all too elaborate game of blackmail and subterfuge.
At one point Leonard himself complained of the need for a tailor to surrender to the imperfection in his work. A lesson that the author himself doesn’t seem to keep in mind, as he is busy adding levels of plot and increasingly improbable revelations, in which every minimal element must receive its payoff. The protagonist played by Rylance also ends up suffering from it, who in the initial conception is at least endowed with an intriguing passivity and a calculating spirit. Always with a needle in hand and a sleeve to sew up, he is a foundational and immobile presence in the room while everyone around him is agitated eager to get somewhere.

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