Arlington Road stars Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. Jeff
Bridges is the guy from Arachnophobia, not the guy from Dumb &
Dumber. That guy, who’s also in Gettysburg, is Jeff Daniels. I just
want to get that straight, because I spent half my time during this movie trying
to remember who was in Dumb & Dumber, since it clearly wasn’t Jeff
But on to the film. How is it? The answer is, pretty good. I admit
that this film suffered from what I call "Traileritis." That’s when
the trailer for the film basically gives away the entire plot. In case you
haven’t seen the trailer for the film, I won’t give away too much about the
Jeff Bridges is Michael Faraday, a university professor who
teaches a course in domestic terrorism. He’s the single father of Grant; his
wife, an FBI agent, was slain in a botched FBI raid. When the film opens, he is
living comfortably in suburban Virginia with Grant and his new girlfriend,
Thanks to a graphic and disturbing (but effective) opening scene,
Bridges meets his neighbors, Oliver Lang (Robbins) and his wife Cheryl (the
wonderfully quirky Joan Cusack). The screenwriter of this film seems to think
ordinary names are boring; how many other films can you name with an Oliver, a
Grant, a Brooke, and a Brady (Oliver’s son)?
Anyway, Faraday and Lang become fast friends. But then Faraday
mistakenly receives a piece of mail for Lang from a Pennsylvania University,
though Lang had told Faraday he had gone to college in Kansas (got that?).
Faraday becomes quite suspicious of this, without any clear reason other than
being paranoid. Faraday then begins his own investigation into his mysterious
I won’t go into too much more detail, other
than to say that Robbins does an excellent job at being both congenial and
chilling, and Bridges is convincing as a man consumed by his own paranoia.
Cusack, as Robbins’s loving wife, is even more chilling than Robbins, with her
easy smile and caring nature.
The ending is where the film falls apart. It’s
the kind of ending that forces you to rethink the entire plot of the film; and
while it explains a few seemingly implausible instances, it creates more than it
explains. Consider, can things like the outcome of a car crash be predictable?
Can you be sure that the driver won’t be killed? And if you want to clear
out a building, the obvious thing to do is to call in a bomb threat of your own.
Don’t call and claim that someone else is putting a bomb there;
call it in yourself! Like the scene in Die Hard: With a Vengeance where
Bruce Willis is trapped in traffic, so he sends out a report of an officer down
and then follows the ambulance.
The end of Arlington Road also places it into a certain
category for me. It’s abbreviated by TBGW. Once you’ve seen the movie, you may
be able to figure the acronym out; if not, feel free to send me an e-mail.
Anyway, this is a moderate thriller, with a few intense moments, but you can
definitely wait to rent it.