STARRING: Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, Spencer Treat Clark, Mason Gamble, Stanley Anderson and Jordan Craig
A man begins to suspect his neighbours are not what they appear to be and their secrets could be deadly.
Arlington Road takes us to Reston, Virginia, where we come across George Washington University American History Professor Michael Faraday, who has been raising his nine-year-old son, Grant, alone since the death of FBI Agent Leah Faraday three years ago. Somewhat of a specialist regarding American terrorism and due to teaching a class on terrorism at the university, in time Michael becomes increasingly suspicious of his neighbours Oliver and Cheryl Lang after taking their son Brady to the hospital after a fireworks accident.
Arlington Road was a film I never got to catch in ’99 and I have most definitely had the ending spoiled for me, especially when you search on the web for ‘films with best twist endings’. So finally I found a copy of Arlington Road to see the film and I’m glad I did.
The key figure to why I enjoyed Arlington Road so much was Jeff Bridges performance as Michael Faraday. After discovering a kid in distress and learning he’s a son of his neighbours nearby, he strikes a friendship with Oliver and Cheryl Lang, until he quickly realises that Oliver lies to him about one thing….and that one thing leads him down a road of suspicion turning into derailing paranoia and I thought Bridges captured that perfectly for the purpose of this film, especially towards the final act. Tim Robbins plays the role of the neighbour next door who may not be who he appears to be well and Joan Cusack is downright pretty as she immediately gives you the ‘there’s something off here’ vibe. There’s some good use of closeup shots here, particularly focusing on Michael’s paranoia, and the strongest scenes come in the films final act.
While the film comes in at around a two hour runtime, it oddly takes a while for the story to really get going and yet it feels too long overall. Unfortunately for Hope Davis, her character Brooke Wolfe is pretty limited in terms of what she’s allowed to bring to the table other than to dismiss Michael’s suspicions (and proof) as disturbing paranoia against his neighbours and there’s a few scenes that seem completely out of place (Michael arriving at the Lang household after being dealt with a shocking discovery…it’s weird, ‘triply’ shot and just didn’t work for me).
Very good lead performance from Jeff Bridges and good performances from Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, it’s a good premise that takes a while to get going and it’s ending makes a memorable and lasting impression. 6/10