The Outfit Movie – What The Heck Just Happened?

The Outfit Movie – What The Heck Just Happened?
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The Outfit Movie – What The Heck Just Happened? I adore Closed Box movies. Wait, what the heck is a “closed box” movie? Well, you take a handful of characters, and you place them in a single location. The tighter the location, the better the drama. Then you set the characters, and the location, to blend on high. The end result is usually a chaotic puree of giblets, and chaos splattered across the walls of the sets, the camera equipment, and director. Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? Well, Hollywood usually refers to “closed box” movies as single set films… and they are highly under rated. But me? I prefer a closed box to an expansive sci-fi, drama, or really anything else going. Seriously. And today we have a fun one. A closed box historical set piece of mafia members and gloriously juxtaposed motivations and outcomes.

But I’m sure there are a lot of people – eyes adjusting from the dimly lit movie theater – will be staggering out into the sunlight, and will be wondering… “what the hell? … did I just miss something?” And so, with that in mind, let’s talk this movie through and see if we can’t dismantle this fantastic movie, and see if we can make heads or tails out of it.

The Outfit Movie Walkthrough

Chicago – 1956 – Leonard Burling, he’s an British cutter. And much is made of this fact. He’s a cutter – not a tailor. (Which, gotta say, is either a bad pun… barely hiding the fact that it’s a tell to the movie’s ending? Or it’s incorrect. I mean, the guy is tailoring all movie long. I’m confused on this point. Unless a cutter was a specific British tailor-esque subdivision of labor?) [According to “The cutter is the artist. He is the man you will be introduced to by the salesman and will take your measurements. He will cut your suit and fit it on you. A good relationship with your cutter, particularly in communicating to him how you want your suit to look, is absolutely essential. They are arguably the core of a tailoring house, and many men will always follow their cutter, wherever he works. European tailors are nearly universally built around a family of cutters.” “The actual tailors are likely to be buried away, either in the basement or in different premises. Most are coat makers, some will be trouser makers, and still others will specialize in waistcoats. But other than admiring their handiwork, you don’t need to have much contact with them. Many cutters start off as tailors, only switching when they become more experienced.”]

Regardless, Leonard runs a clothier in a neighborhood that is under the thumb of Irish Mob boss Roy Boyle. Boyle’s son, Ritchie is second in command, but he’s insecure and worries all the time about not having his father’s approval. And Francis, Boyle’s heavy, and enforcer, does nothing to help Ritchie’s constant sense of insecurity.

As the movie is starting, we learn that the Boyle’s use Leonard’s shop as a drop for all sorts of illicit things, but specifically dirty money. Leonard allows the mob to use his shop for this sort of arrangement mainly because Roy Boyle was Leonard’s first customer, and has been his number one benefactor since his coming to America with only his sheers, and nothing else. Then there is Leonard’s receptionist… who has big dreams, and hopes, and she needs lots of cash in order to make them all come true. Specifically she wants to travel the world over – and she won’t be stopped unless she makes it happen.

The Outfit Movie - What The Heck Just Happened? The Outfit Movie explained.

Now we hit the slow spin on the blender – and start to see what happens. Francis shows up at the shop with Ritchie, who has been shot. How was Ritchie shot? It was a clash with the Irish family’s chief rival, the La Fontaine family… a French criminal organization that is clashing with the Boyle’s. Francis tells Leonard to treat Ritchie… and he also brings out a briefcase that has a copy of an FBI recording that has all the details of the family’s operations. It’s a recording that was given to the Boyle’s by the enigmatically named, “The Outfit.” The Outfit is a group of criminal underworld organizations headed by Al Capone, founded in order to protect criminal groups from the law. (Because that makes sense that Al Capone would care so magnanimously for all the criminals in the world.) Regardless, Francis contact’s Richie’s father via phone and then leaves to a destination unknown. Post surgery, Ritchie makes a dramatic recovery, and the two men strike up a conversation. But Leonard is up to something… he begins to stoke Richie’s insecurities, and starts insinuating that Francis is the mole who is planning to turn over the tape in the briefcase over to the FBI. Hrm. Something is going on here that isn’t quite what it seems.

Let’s spin this bender on high, shall we? See what we can see. So, flip the situation over, and when Francis comes back, Leonard begins doing the same thing, but in reverse… telling Francis that Ritchie isn’t in his right mind after losing so much blood. And after Francis says he’s going to take the tape down the street in order to get a device that would allow them to listen to it… Ritchie comes unhinged. At said unhinging – Francis takes his own unhinging to an eleven, and kills Ritchie. But now Francis has a problem because Ritchie’s father is arriving at the upscale clothier, and Ritchie’s brain matter is strewn across the floor. Quickly, Francis tells Leonard to stall Roy Boyle and his heavy. And miraculously, he is able to hide the body, and clean up the crimson detritus. Francis makes it clear to Leonard, that if he says a word about the dead son, he too would die soon after. And so Francis tells Roy that Ritchie left the store, for reasons unknown. Francis though offers to go find him. Soon though, Roy notices that Ritchie left his coat behind… and in the dead of winter? Huh. What the heck is going on here? But then Francis returns, and he’s got Mable in his paws and a new theory that Mable is the mole… the one selling out their family. She was, after all, in a weird, secret relationship with Ritchie after all. And now Francis has a story that he saw Ritchie’s blood in Mable’s apartment! It all adds up.

Roy authorizes his goon to torture Mable in order to find out exactly what it is that she knows. But Leonard jumps in and tells Roy a story about how his own wife and daughter had died in a fire back at Savile Row when he worked as a Cutter in London on Savile Row. The phone rings, and Leonard answers it – and he makes it sound like Ritchie is still alive, and that he’s waiting for him. And it’s because of this that Roy and his goon leave in order to find his son. Francis was going too, but at the last second, he understood that he would have a problem on his hands if he let Mable and Leonard just go scot-free. So Leonard stayed behind. Well, that was good for him, why? Because, we find out that Mable ACTUALLY IS the FBI informant. Huh. Mable even admits that the only reason she was dating Ritchie was so that she could get the deets on his family. But why? Well, because she blames Ritchie’s family for murdering her father. Leonard then convinces Mable to let the La Fontaine’s know where Roy and his goon are so that they can jump them as they are looking for his son. Francis goes with the plan, allowing Roy to be killed solely so that he can take over the Boyle family gang after he is gone.

After Violet La Fontaine jumps Roy, she comes to Leonard’s shop and gives Mable a suitcase full of cash in exchange for the tape. All the while, Francis is hiding in the closet, waiting to attack the La Fontaine’s. But Leonard warns them, and Francis is shot two different times by Violet’s bodyguards. After, they leave with the tape – but Leonard lets Mable know that the tape was a fake. Better yet, Mable realizes that Leonard has been executing a long con all along. That he’s been deceiving the Boyle’s from the drop by planting fake messages from The Outfit all along. Leonard was actually bugging his own shop in order to capture them incriminating themselves when they asked him to leave his shop so they could talk.

As the movie winds down, Leonard gives Mable the actual tape, the incriminating evidence that only he had, and he tells Mable to travel, to live out her dreams. Which she does. But when Leonard douses the shop and sets it alight, Francis comes back from the dead, and shoots Leonard in the arm… and then his gun conveniently jams. Pulling out a knife, the two men chase each other around the shop a bit before Leonard reveals that prior to becoming a Cutter, he actually lived an unsavory life as gang goon in London until he was asked to commit some reprehensible job… which he fled from. Restarting his life as a Cutter, he married, had a daughter… he turned over a new leaf. Eventually though, his old gang found him, killed his family and burnt down his place. Ultimately, Leonard takes his chance, leaps, and stabs Francis in the neck with his prized shears. And with that, Leonard slips out and leaves yet another life behind him.

The Outfit Movie - What The Heck Just Happened?

The Outfit Movie – What The Heck Just Happened?

Not to talk down to you – but sometimes the laundry that we are doing, or the purchasing of tickets to the local school play, or that game in overtime forces complicated movies like The Outfit to elude us all. I get it. So let’s quickly recap what had been happening from the beginning, shall we?

Leonard hated the mafia. In London, they had killed his wife and daughter. So when the local mafia cozies up to Leonard, and his store… and ultimately his faux-but-real-daughter Mable. As soon as Leonard saw that Mable wanted to travel the world, and would do anything to do it… including court Ritchie, who she couldn’t stand… he knew Mable would be in trouble. You don’t just walk away from a gang of demons as easily as she thought she could. So Leonard begins to scheme.

Which causes him to start falsifying The Outfit messages. Messages alerting them to a mole, messages for which this gang would pay dearly to get their hands on… and that the La Fontaine’s would pay even more for. So when the two gangs escalate things, and Ritchie arrives shot at the shop, it is Leonard that escalates things to a tipping point. It’s Leonard that pits Francis and Ritchie and ultimately Roy and his henchmen against one another… a pool of piranha that now have a taste for piranha. (I’ll tell you a story some day about owning several piranha as a kid in high school. But not today.) Anyway, you see?

It was Leonard who setup the mafia – Roy’s family – and it was Leonard that got Mable her money for her travels… but more importantly… kept her alive.

The Outfit Movie - What The Heck Just Happened?

A Few Interesting Thoughts on The Outfit

You see? Blender set to high, let’s gooooo! You take just a couple of characters, give them backstories (one character’s father had been murdered by a few of the other players in this story, another character’s family was murdered by another similarly horrible gang…) and set the blender on ludicrous speed. You know? All of the character’s actions only make sense AFTER the movie is over and the curtains are raised on their motives and intentions. Mable is out for revenge for her father, who was murdered and discarded. Leonard is out for a different kind of revenge on Mable’s behalf. He doesn’t want her to be hurt through her over zealousness. He sees what is coming, and he intervenes in order to keep her alive. All Mable can think about is the money for traveling. But she doesn’t realize just how deep she is in on this moral morass of hers.

It’s interesting that I knew that Leonard was pulling the strings, but I didn’t fully grasp just how far back the strings went. That he was the one mailing Roy fake tapes on behalf of The Outfit was a step beyond what I had anticipated was happening. I almost expected to find out that Roy had invented The Outfit in order to create the con utterly from scratch. But it didn’t quite go that far back. Though, I wouldn’t have been opposed, The Outfit was sort of a stupid McGuffin type idea just to move the plot along.

Over all, I really like the pensive mood of this movie. The conversational tone of it. And real meaning that came with each move that was played throughout the films length. I had seen several different trailers for the film long before it came out, and I had actually assumed the movie was much larger than it actually was. But I preferred it on this small stage… almost play sized stage even. Which suited the story and the reveals. It was a good ride! Hopefully you liked it too.

Other Closed Box Movies like The Outfit

Just the other day we discussed a fantastic movie that ran in very similar circles to The Outfit – it’s called Windfall. I even chatted with one of the four actors from that movie – and found my new best friend! The Standoff at Sparrow Creek also has a similar find-the-mole sort of blender vibe going for it. Unknown goes one better by dropping collective amnesia into a mole hunt vibe… really great movie. And Faults, while a left turn to this mafia vibe, still stays true to this sort of mole hunt feeling while adding cults to the mix. Regardless – want to skip my personal recommendations and read all of the closed box movies that I have reviewed and discussed here on THiNC.? Be my guest.

Edited by: CY