‘The Outfit’ Is a Film About The Impeccable Gangster Couture Porn

This bespoke-pulp tale of a tailor caught in a Chicago mob crossfire is a showcase for British actor Mark Rylance and some gorgeous-looking suits

On the south side of Chicago, there’s a small shop at the end of a quiet, snowy street. Its proprietor, a man named Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance), makes suits. Please don’t refer to this courtly English gentleman as a tailor, however — he spent many years apprenticing on Savile Row as a “cutter,” which is a very different skill set, indeed. When Burling eventually left his native country, he set up shop in the Windy City and made a name for himself as a provider of beautiful suits for a discerning clientele. Because the year is 1956 and this is a neighborhood that still lives in the shadow of Capone’s legacy, his customers are mostly gangsters. Specifically, the Boyle family organization, who run the town with an iron fist sticking out of customized, impeccably fitting sleeve.

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What we have here is something new assembled, painstakingly and piece by piece, out of old cloth, yet burnished to such a fine throwback sheen that it creates a self-contained time warp — the same dissociative tingle you might get when entering some artisanal Hipsterville pop-up that’s gone to great lengths to recreate an Amish barn. It does not want to be your grandfather’s mobster movie, though it does take place in a shop he would have purchased a silken waistcoat in.

The Outfit is a crime thriller made to order, and one that takes pride in how it looks, how things fit on it, the shape it cuts when it moves. “This isn’t art, it’s a craft” is how Burling describes his trade. “We can talk about art later.” You can almost hear cowriter-director Graham Moore clearing his throat behind that line of dialogue. He’s not talking about the art of cutting fabric that, once the separate, sliced fragments are assembled and tapered, results in streamlined formal attire. He’s talking about the bespoke pulp you’re watching. Clothes make the movie.

It does look absolutely gorgeous, a virtual den of dark browns and charcoal grays and, courtesy of Deutch’s wanderlusty Mable, an occasional smattering of primary colors and plaids. Moore won an Oscar for penning The Imitation Game, which largely ran Benedict Cumberbatch through his Oscar-bio paces in either the Enigma project’s headquarters or Alan Turing’s tiny apartment. He’s limited the locations down to just a single interior this time out, with a few glimpses of the wintry outside for good measure.