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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.


The Outfit on IMDb

Plot Overview

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A gang war and the feds descend on a hapless limey tailor in his retro sartorial redoubt on the wrong side of town. It's a David and Goliath scenario set in 1956 Chicago. The shop's patriarchal proprietor Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance) discusses with Irish capo Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale) the difference between man and monkey being the former's use of tools. Both men use tools: the one uses shears and the other a sidearm. The question is who is going to make a monkey out of whom.

Boyle explains to a naive (“If we only allowed angels to be customers, soon we'd have no customers at all”) Burling the concept of The Outfit—slang for Mafia—as an expansion of Al Capone's influence after he died. It's an umbrella organization “like the Rotary Club” that's got the backs of sundry criminal organizations from coast to coast. He makes it all seem so benign, similar to a description I once read in a Steve Shagan novel:

“You never really understood our organization. We were born out of centuries of rape. Sicily was Europe's whore. Our identity was taken from us, along with our work and our hope. The Mafia was not a criminal organization. It was a people's revolution against a feudal system. We were truly the Honored Society. We extended our protection to the poor, and in return for loyalty we defended out people against all outside enemies.”

“Then you expanded your revolution to America and corrupted its political institutions.”

“We corrupted nothing,” the Don said. “In 1930 America was a monarchy run by maybe twenty elite families. … Listen, my sancti­monious friend. if Leo Meyers had been a WASP, if I had been born on Beacon Hill with a good Anglo name like Cabot or Lodge, we'd have run Union Oil instead of the Union Siciliana.”

“What about all the kids strung out on heroin?” Phil persisted. “Permanently consigned to the junk pile?”

“What about them?” the Don asked quizzically.

“That's something you have to answer for, or am I wrong?”

“The American Congress can stop drug traffic in two minutes—all they've got to do is legalize it, control it, dole it out in hospitals, like they do in England. It's that [bs] WASP morality that keeps the mob in business. Just like Prohibition. … We were nothing compared to them. We didn't make wars; we didn't control the banks or steel or shipping or oil. We gave Americans their candy: booze, gambling and broads. We were small potatoes.” (305-6)


spud manspudspudspudThe morality of the mob is beyond the purview of this review, but the movie's focus on a small-time family enterprise trying to ingratiate itself to an umbrella organization is a ready template for business success any­where despite its small scale. It's much like, (Prov. 30:24) “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:”

(Prov. 30:25) “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” The first nugget of wisdom is to start working young, in the summer of life. Boyle said of his dad, “He taught me how to tie a tie at the age of four.” Burling replies with a quote from Oscar Wilde, “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life, kid.” Boyle started early to dress for success. Burling him­self presumably enlisted under­age to fight in the Great War where he found him­self gifted at his endeavors, but “it wasn't magic; it was work.”

(Prov. 30:26) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” The second piece of wisdom is location. Burling moved on to become a tailor's apprentice on Savile Row, a quarter mile stretch housing the most illustrious tailors in the world. Says he, “I apprenticed for years before they allowed me to open my own shop.” But what an education!

briefcase(Prov. 30:27) “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” Next was needed an informal support network. The Family in Chicago tapped their tailor to secrete a lock box in his back room for the relaying of messages and packages. Boyle brings non-family members on board. Says his son Richie (Dylan O'Brien,) the “mangiest dog on the street if he has sharp teeth, will be eating dinner with us.” And when their friends in The Outfit provided them a copy of an FBI tape from a bug, they found a hi-fi shop that owed them a favor who had the equipment to play it on.

quiltinggift boughtsecretary and bosskite above pyramidthe postmanMethodology is importantquartet(Prov. 30:28) “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” The tailor gives a detailed tutorial on making an outfit (“The process of sizing, forming, conjoining those pieces, requires no fewer than 228 steps.”) He says the goal is perfection but the expectation is failure. It's that spider web in the proverbs, yes. It's a marvel of engineering, architecture and construction. Spider silk is one of the strongest materials there is. The spider lays it in concentric circles, with certain strands to convey vibrations. He lays it in open space to trap flying insects. Perfection is its goal. But failure is its expectation, because there are so may bigger things moving through the world that it's doomed. So the spider weaves another web, business as usual.

The tailor had his shop in England, but when the war ended, the country was poor and blue jeans became the rage from James Dean. When his shop burned down he moved to prosperous America and was sponsored by a clothes-conscious family. It looks like they may lose the battle with a rival gang headed by a woman, and he knows nothing about women's apparel—though his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch) does. So like the spider he must string up a new operation all over again, away from the heat, but it's easier the second time. Mable her­self has global aspirations and gifts her­self snow globes to imagine them.

Production Values

” (2022) was directed by Graham Moore who co-wrote it with Johnathan McClain. It stars Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O'Brien and Johnny Flynn. Rylance gave a superb performance as an expatriate English tailor, hitting the notes just right. The rest of the cast came through okay, too. This one was produced during the two year lock-down and other restrictions from the pandemic forcing movie-makers to produce films with minimal movement on limited sets and locations. But when nature gives you a lemon, let the writers ply their lemonade trade.

MPAA rated “The Outfit” R for some bloody violence, and language through­out. The portable cassette tape recorder depicted was historically misplaced for a time when bulky wire recorders were yet to be super­seded by acetate. All the action takes place in the tailor shop or just out­side it, making this picture resemble a theatrical play. It was filmed in London, England. It has a tense runtime of 1¾ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I quite enjoyed this movie as I've appreciated plays from way back. I think it was an achievement, especially the clever script and the dead­pan acting of the principal. See it for serious fare.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Shagan, Steve. The Circle. Copyright © 1982 by Cirandinha Productions, Inc. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1982. Print.