Arlington Road

Here is a movie that will make you think about the people next door. Arlington Road is the address for a film about a widowed Washington D.C. college professor who suspects his neighbors aren't exactly what they seem. The movie begins with Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) driving down his street, Arlington Road, and finding an injured child. After saving his life, he discovers that the child lives across the street from him. Faraday becomes fast friends with the boy's thankful parents Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robins and Joan Cusack), but just as quickly becomes suspicious of them and fears that they may be terrorists. (Faraday teaches a course on Terrorism).

Faraday relays his concerns to Whit Carver (Robert Gosset) the former partner of his slain FBI-agent wife, who died in a bungled raid against suspected domestic terrorists. Carver, along with his Faraday's girlfriend Brooke (Hope Davis), dismiss his wariness as paranoia and suggest that he is taking his work too seriously and letting it seep into his life. However, Faraday is certain that his neighbors are hiding something and begins to dig for information. His mistrusts are fueled as he learns that Oliver was arrested as a teen for making a bomb and while searching through Lang's house, he discovers what seem to be floor plans for federal buildings. Faraday becomes more convinced that his neighbors are part of a highly structured terrorist conspiracy, but to everyone else he just seems to grow increasingly erratic and obsessed with the Langs.

The most notable part of the movie would be the ironic ending, which makes up for the other failures in the film, namely the casting of Jeff Bridges as Faraday. Bridges immensely overacted the lead role, which I feel just put the paranoia of Faraday over the top and in your face. His exaggerated performance was unnecessary, as the plot and the supporting cast would have sufficiently communicated Faraday's paranoia and made his character a bit more convincing. Bridges' extreme portrayal had me wondering halfway through the movie why the men in the little white coats hadn't come to take him way. However, the supporting cast compensates for Bridges' poor performance. Tim Robins plays a mild mannered husband, father, and supposed terrorist who for the most part remained polite and composed even when he is punching the crap of his neighbor. Joan Cusak and her chilling smile drives home (no pun intended) that this is no ordinary family next door. Even the Lang children, especially the two daughters, give you the creeps. Gossett delivers as the friend who is losing patience with Faraday, but still feels compelled to help him, if for no other reason than guilt over the past. Davis was little more than a prop, but she played her part well.

Arlington Road is a movie that had so much potential but alas, due to Bridges' gross overacting and a few implausible twists, it never realized it's full triumph as a suspense thriller. Still, Arlington Road is not a bad movie and worth a viewing.

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale: C

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale Values:

A = movie tickets and popcorn for 2 (about $40)
B = buy the DVD when it comes out ($25)
C = rent it
D = wait for it to be on cable/pay TV
E = wait for it to be on regular TV

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