Review: ‘Arlington Road’

Imagine suspecting your worst nightmare was about to come true. Then imagine there’s nothing you can do about it. Now imagine it’s not your imagination.

Jeff Bridges plays Micheal Faraday, a man who lives on Arlington Road. His new neighbors are Oliver Lang, played by Tim Robbins, and his wife Cheryl, played by Joan Cusack. After two months without any real introductions, the neighbors meet when Faraday finds Lang’s son bleeding in the middle of the street from an unseen wound. A friendship begins to form until Faraday picks up on a few inconsistencies with Lang’s off-hand comments about his past. As Faraday attempts to confirm his suspicions, everyone he has ever cared about is drawn into a downward spiral of events that will keep everyone on the edge of their seat until the final frame.

Arlington Road is a thriller that boldly carries a message. In view of recent national events and tragedies, the film doesn’t use terrorists attacks as a vehicle for a thriller so much as it makes sense of them, escalating seemingly isolated incidents into a frightening scenario that any sane person would sooner dismiss than face the reality of such a thing actually being true. It doesn’t need giant steam-powered spiders or haunted houses to scare you, either. Everything about the film is contradictory to the personal safety everyone assumes they have until someone they’ve never met pulls out a weapon and starts waving it around, or, as Anthony Hopkins said in Instinct, because someone “takes away your illusion.” The word “disturbing” best describes this movie, and the final scene drive the point home, right in the middle of the easy chair.

Tim Robbins easily stands out in my mind as what makes the film work, a twisted character that remains uncomfortably calm in every situation, and is followed closely by Joan Cusack, who’s smile is almost scarier. Jeff Bridges follows a close third with his portrayal of man already breaking as he pushes himself to snap. Unlike other summer films, audiences won’t soon forget what they saw.

Welcome to Arlington Road. You’re welcome to stay, if you like.

(3.5 out of 4)

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