Intriguing premise and strong acting by Jeff Bridges and Tim Ribbins elevate “Ärlington Road,” a paranoid thriller that’s not particularly well directed by tyro Mark Pellington.
In this tense thriller, an innocent man and good citizen begins to suspect that his neighbors are not what they appear to be.
Michael Faraday (played by Jeff Bridges) is a college professor whose wife, an FBI agent, was killed in the line of duty by an extremist right-wing terrorist group, leaving him to raise their nine-year-old son by himself.
One day, he saves the life of a boy, the son of his new neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack). Michael soon becomes friendly with the Langs, who seem bland and normal as most denizens of suburbia.
But the better Michael gets to know Oliver, the more he suspects that something isn’t quite right. Oliver is too clean and perfect, and Michael begins to notice that small details in Oliver’s stories that don’t quite add up.
Is Michael’s mounting paranoia about the radical right well grounded in reality? Are the Langs up to something more sinister than their cheerful smiles and manicured lawn would suggest?
Ehren Kruger’s screenplay for Arlington Road won the Nicholl Fellowship prize of the AMPAS in 1996. Indie director Mark Pellington, who impressed with his Sundance Film Fest debut, Going All the Way, starring Ben Affleck (before he became a star), may lack the technical skills for heling a good, suspenseful thriller.
Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges)
Oliver Lang (Tim Robbins)
Cheryl Lang (Joan Cusack)
Brooke Wolf (Hope Davis)
FBI Agent Whit Carver (Robert Gossett)
Dis: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Dir: Mark Pellington
Producers: Peter Samuelson, Tom Gorai, Marc Samuelson, Tom Rosenberg, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Ted Tannebaum
Scribe: Ehren Kruger
Camera: Bobby Bukowski
Ed: Conrad Buff
Design: Therese Deprez
Costume: Jennifer Barrett-Pellington
Music: Angelo Badalamenti
Running Time: 119 minutes