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Arlington Road

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Arlington Road

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins
Director: Mark Pellington
Rated: R
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: July 1999
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Mason Gamble

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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

This contemporary thriller stars Jeff Bridges as a college professor whose FBI-agent wife was killed in a botched raid on an alleged right-wing cult. The film was scheduled to open in May, shortly after the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado. With its tagline, "Fear thy neighbor," its release was understandably postponed. The theme revolves around how everyday appearances can be deceiving. This concept is personified by a seemingly normal, all-American couple - Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack - who move with their three children into a suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. Gradually, Bridges, who teaches a course in terrorism, senses something suspicious about them. Is he just paranoid or are they part of a lethal, para-military conspiracy? "There's no gratuitous violence," Bridges says, "but it does deal with a violent subject, with militia groups - and how some people express unhappiness toward the government and their own lives. Certainly, I would hope it doesn't lead to copycat crimes. However, it's a tough subject: whether the arts reflect society or lead society. I don't know if we want to put restrictions on creativity, but, at the same time, we certainly do not want to inspire people to do violence." Writer Ehren Kruger and director Mark Pellington are obviously manipulative as they explore this volatile subject with a stylish scenario that leads to a grim, uncompromising, over-the-top conclusion. Both Cusack and Robbins seem to relish their intriguing, intimidating roles with an evil glee, and Jeff Bridges delivers a solid performance as the tormented widower who becomes a pawn in their plot to dismantle American society. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Arlington Road" is a sinister, scary 6, making you skeptical about anyone's safety. It delivers a chilling shiver on a hot summer's night.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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