Arlington Road Review

Post 9/11, any plot involving terrorists blowing up buildings takes on a new meaning. The strength of Arlington Road’s script overwhelms thoughts of real world history though, thanks to a great script and superb performances from the two leads. This is a fantastic late ‘90s piece.

Jeff Bridges stars alongside Tim Robbins who have been neighbors for years without even saying hello until an event brings them together. Due to a number of circumstances, Bridges begins to suspect Robbins as a domestic terrorist, leading to intense stand-offs and Bridge’s family questioning his own sanity.

A fantastic cat and mouse game follows, and Robbins is simply perfect as a creepy neighbor. He perfectly believable as the kind, gentle friend or the true psycho. A sequence in Bridge’s backyard is a show-stealer. Twists in the script make you question Robbins intentions until the final frames, and the ending works beautifully, bucking the usual Hollywood trends despite a standard ‘90s thriller chase prior.

While the first hour can drag, the information is crucial. It could have been condensed slightly, particularly a back-story on Bridge’s deceased wife. As if on cue, Arlington Road picks up just past the hour mark to pull the audience in until the finale. As a final complaint, there are a few contrived meetings between the families. They’re set up as scares that become too predictable.

Expertly performed by its stars, wonderfully gripping as written, and loaded with tension, Arlington Road is an overlooked and under appreciated thriller. It deserves a wide audience even as it becomes a little past its prime.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

arlingtonroad

Flat and soft immediately come to mind about this MPEG-2 transfer, and those thoughts will stick with you for the rest of the film. Colors never feel realized, sitting in a weird range of pastel shades, which includes pinky flesh tones. Black levels are non-existent, residing in a muddy gray scale. A mild layer of edge enhancement is noticeable in a few shots. DNR is likely the culprit for the inconsistent level of detail on faces and clothing. There’s a weird interlacing error at 13:43 on some tree branches. Not an issue that would affect the score, but gives off the feeling that this was digitally altered in some way not for the better.

Video ★★☆☆☆ 


Uncompressed PCM is the source for this center-loaded effort. Everything seems to come from the center, with the soundtrack barely bleeding into the rears let alone the stereo channels. Bass is exceptional, whether it’s from the music or gunfire. It’s a shame the rest of the experience is so flat.

Audio ★★☆☆☆ 

Mark Pellington and Jeff Bridges deliver an affectionate commentary, followed by a solid if too short making of, Hidden Vulnerability. There’s a load of behind-the-scenes footage during its 20 minute run. An alternate ending is introduced extensively by Pellington, who explains his (correct) reasons for going with the one used in the film.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 


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