Strong Suit: Actor Mark Rylance cuts a memorable figure in ‘The Outfit’ | East Bay Express

The clothe is a weird little crime drama that’s kicked up a notch by the performance of Mark Rylance, an actor who specializes in weird little characters.

Sir Mark Rylance, born in the UK but raised and educated in the US, rose unexpectedly from a successful career on British stages to an Oscar-winning film role as a Soviet spy agent in Steven Spielberg. bridge of spies (2015). The soft-spoken, mild-mannered man with hidden reserves of ingenuity and bravery has been his forte on screen ever since, in Dunkirk, The Chicago 7 Trial and last year’s Don’t look up. He plays the type of character that can outrun you and make you happy for the experience. In The clothe, the man in question is the one John le Carré describes as a lookout, one who observes attentively. Underestimate a Rylance character at your peril.

The setting of The clothe is a cozy tailor shop on a snowy Chicago street in 1956, owned and operated by Leonard Burling (Rylance). Inside the old-fashioned, wood-paneled haberdashery, the English immigrant meticulously crafts bespoke menswear with an air of understated pride. “I’m a tailor, not a tailor,” says the Savile Row veteran as he leads a lesson in fine costume making. Anyone can be called a tailor; a cutter is an expert shaper of garments tailored to an individual customer. He’s almost an artist, but not quite. In Leonard’s words, “It’s not art, it’s a craft.”

Leonardo is not alone in his studio. Up front is Mable (Zoey Deutch), a young woman from the neighborhood who longs for a change of scenery. As happens in writer Jonathan McClain and director Graham Moore’s script, Mable dates Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), a hoodlum who has a habit of stopping by the store. Reason: In addition to making costumes, Leonard’s place of business functions as a mail depot for gangsters. How and why Leonard got involved in the mob is a question the film glosses over in its haste to move the plot forward.

As we move forward, these questions become clearer, one point at a time. Richie’s father, Roy (Simon Russell Beale, somewhat misinterpreted), is a crime boss at war with rivals across town. There’s some interest in a secret bug evidence tape, a missing briefcase full of cash, a promising hood named Francis (played strikingly by Johnny Flynn), yet another rival crew led by a French-speaking black woman. called Violet LaFontaine (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and, oh yes, a rat selling information to the FBI. All this while Leonard quietly goes about his business.

The idea of ​​using a suit as the fulcrum of a tense, suspenseful drama reminds us of that of Paul Thomas Anderson. ghost thread, as well as Louis Malle Lucien Lacombe– same detached manners and fussy attention to detail, grafted onto a complex story. Leonard’s situation is even more like another Chicago gangster tale, David Mamet’s. Things change, starring Don Ameche as a humble shoe shiner promoted to godfather status by a comical accident. If only director Moore (The imitation game) was able to capture the threatening and discreet atmosphere of Mamet.

Again and again, we fall back on the talent of Rylance. He paints his portrait of a seemingly subservient and weak man with the hand of an experienced miniaturist – as in the scene in which Leonard explains how James Dean and his blue jeans single-handedly ruined the fine clothing trade in Great Britain. Britain after the Second World War. . This acting job is almost enough to lift The clothe out of its dead spots. Almost.

The film’s double-meaning title refers to the Chicago organized crime syndicate’s longtime nickname. But there is another The clothe, director John Flynn’s skinny, badass 1973 starring Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker battling Robert Ryan, Timothy Carey, Richard Jaeckel and Marie Windsor for control of various rackets. Rylance and his 2022 filmmakers have plenty to aspire to.

In theaters March 18

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