January 18, 2013
Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack
Now this is one nasty little bastard of a
Anyone who has seen Arlington Road before knows exactly what I am
talking about. And anyone who has never seen it before, well
you are in for a treat. I won't tell you exactly what kind of
a treat, but hey, at least you will remember it. Nobody has
ever watched Arlington Road before and then forgotten about it
afterwards. It really is one of the more unforgettable movies
you are going to see in your life.
Arlington Road is the story of a man named Michael Faraday (Jeff
Bridges). He is a college professor at George Washington
University, and he teaches a history course on American terrorism.
Oh, and he is also kind of messed up. You see,
Michael's wife (an FBI agent) was killed in a botched raid on a gun
collector a couple of years earlier. She was shot and killed
because the FBI had bad intel, and because they screwed up now his wife
is dead. And even though he is trying to get over it and move
on with his life, it is clear that he is still kind of messed up about
Michael having it out with the FBI director that killed his wife
Michael teaching his class about all the terrorists and crazies in the
Well in the middle of being angry with the FBI, and trying to get over
his wife's death, and teaching a college course on American terrorism,
something interesting happens to Michael one day. A new
family moves in to the house across the street. They are the
Lang family. And Michael quickly becomes acquainted with them
in the strangest way possible.
He rushes their son to the emergency room after he has blown off his
hand in a fireworks accident
Michael meets the Langs at the emergency room and they soon hit it off.
Because the Langs are just an ordinary family.
Just a nice ordinary everyday American family. They
are nice and friendly and normal just like everyone else. In
fact, they are probably just like the neighbors that you have
across the street from you right now.
The Lang Family
Michael and his new girlfriend hanging out with the Langs
Michael becomes friends with the Langs at first. They hang
out together and they have barbecues together. Their sons
even join the same Explorer Scouts group.
Michael begins to notice little things about the Langs that start to
There are just little things about Oliver Lang's background as a
structural engineer that don't really add up.
Michael spying on his neighbors
Michael sees Oliver's collection of famous blueprints.
Especially one of a building in St. Louis that was blown up
three years ago.
Pretty soon, because of his background in American extremist groups,
Michael has convinced himself that Oliver Lang is a terrorist.
And that the Langs have moved here to Washington D.C. so that
they can pull off another bombing. Just like the one that
they did in St. Louis a couple of years ago.
Michael trying to convince his girlfriend that the Langs are terrorists
Michael pleads his case to his girlfriend, but she doesn't believe him.
He pleads his case to his contacts in the FBI, but no one
believes him. He pleads his case to anyone who will listen,
but no one believes him. And the whole movie turns into a big
cat and mouse game. Are the Langs actually terrorists?
Or has Michael been teaching terrorism so long that he is
just paranoid now? For about ninety minutes you get sucked
into the world of what it is like for Michael to slowly go crazy.
It is incredibly well done.
Terrorist? Or just suburban dad?
In the end... well... I am not going to tell you. You will
just have to see it for yourself. Although it is safe to say
that the movie is NOT going where you expect it to go, and in
the final few minutes you will be caught off guard and you
will be holding your breath. Because I can honestly think of
very few movies that are as suspenseful and as nasty as this one is.
Oh, and get ready for Joan Cusack creepy eyes. No movie has
ever pulled off Joan Cusack creepy eyes as well as Arlington Road does.
When I say that Arlington Road packs a punch, I am not joking around
here. You better get ready before you watch this one.
I am not messing around. This is a suspense movie
like no other. I am amazed how many people I know
that when I tell them I love Arlington Road, they will usually say one
of two things. They will usually say "OH MY GOD THAT MOVIE IS
AMAZING!" or they will "Fuck that movie, fuck it all the way to hell, I
hate that movie." And again, I don't want to spoil it but you
will know why when you see it. There are very few movies that
will divide an audience as completely as this one will.
Arlington Road came out in the summer of 1999 (in the middle of what I
like to call "the best summer of movies of all time") and unfortunately
it never really hit home with audiences the way that it should have.
Although there is a very good reason for that. You
see, Arlington Road is one of the more unlucky movies of all time.
At least, timing wise it was unlucky.
What happened in April of 1999 is that Columbine High School
in Colorado had its notorious school shooting (or school bombing, which
is more accurate.) And since Arlington Road was supposed to
come out a couple of weeks after that, and because it has a
plot that is so eerily close to what happened at Columbine, the movie
studio said NO WAY are we releasing this movie so soon after Columbine.
So it kind of got buried on the shelves for a while.
And then when it did come out later that summer they hardly
marketed it or publicized it at all. Again, it was so close
to what happened at Columbine that no one in the movie industry wanted
to have anything to do with it.
Arlington Road came out in the summer of 1999, and for about
two years it developed a fairly loyal following. People who
loved it REALLY loved it. People who hated it REALLY hated
it. Again, it is just that type of movie. Although
personally, I don't see how anyone can hate it. Not if you
appreciate suspense movies you can't.
So Arlington Road was popular for about two years. And then
9/11 happened. And once again, Arlington Road is so close to
what happened on 9/11 that again, nobody wanted anything to do with it.
It was just too gripping, and for lack of a better term, it
was just too "real." So again it kind of got buried and
people wanted to forget about it.
But I am telling you right now. This movie deserves to be
loved. Again, it is a suspense thriller unlike anything you
have ever seen. You will laugh. You will cry.
You will cry some more. You will scream.
It is one of the most memorable suspense movies I have ever
seen in my life. And oh, that ending. Oh my
goodness, that ending. After you watch it you will watch it
again to see what you missed.
This is one of those movies that I really can't say enough about how
crazy it is. Between Jeff Bridges slowly getting paranoid and
going insane, and Tim Robbins teetering right on that edge between sane
suburban dad and sociopath, to being the only movie I have
ever seen where Joan Cusack actually gets to play a scary person, this
is one of
those rare movies that you will see once and you will never forget.
At the beginning of my review I called Arlington Road "a nasty little
bastard of a movie." Well, that is about the best way I can
possibly describe it. It is one nasty little bastard.
See it once and you will understand why I call it that.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Arlington Road
Thrilling and ultimately
chilling - 19 December 2000
movie requires that you do not have any expectations of it. As long as
you can keep from thinking it'll be like every other Hollywood piece of
crap thriller out there, you will be . . . well, probably a little
That ending -14 December
love movies with a twist at the end (I promise I won't reveal it here).
A good final twist can elevate a film to new levels. It can make a good
film out of a mediocre one (Alien 3) or a masterpiece out of an already
good one (Fight Club). (For the record, the only thing I don't like is
when a film is so obviously built around its twist, that until it
comes, it seems plot less; I mean The Sixth Sense). But Arlington Road
certainly belongs to the Fight Club category. It had me gripped from
the start, even if the plot seemed at times predictable and contrived,
the manic energy of Jeff Bridges and the calm menace of the
cast-against-type Tim Robbins were enough to hook me. And then it all
comes together so beautifully, and all the contrivances are explained
in one swift stroke. Chapeau. When a film makes you want to see it
again immediately, that's a good sign. Watch this one twice. At least.
Stunning. - 4 June 2000
the end of 'Arlington Road' I was stunned. I mean, I actually let the
end credits roll before pressing stop on the video remote, it was that
good. Really thought-provoking, harrowing, well-conceived stuff.
why, relatively speaking, did it flop at the box office? This is the
type of truly amazing thriller that would be a runaway success if Bruce
Willis had taken the lead, or Christopher Walken had a go as the
villain. But it's better than that - Jeff Bridges is perfect as the
nervy, paranoid lecturer and Tim Robbins particularly creepy as his
odd, possibly terrorist-related neighbour.
And what an ending!
is the kind of film that deserves trumpeting as a major cinematic
triumph, but will instead languish in that category filled with films
like 'Breakdown' and 'Wild Things' - movies that will become forgotten
gems. So watch it before you forget about it!
How Did That Movie Get
Made? - 18 November 2000
cannot recall a more disturbing edgy creepy movie coming out of a
mainstream Hollywood studio. How did it get made? And more
specifically, how did the studio, with all its focus groups and test
screenings, let it get released with such a suprising ending?
don't know, but I'm certainly glad we've got the fluke to show for it;
a creepy twisty movie that really grabs you right from the start and
won't let you go. I got that line from Jeff Craig. Go 60 Second Preview.
though, I'm not surprised this movie made zero at the box office, it's
not a crowd pleaser. And I'm also not surprised everyone said I should
go see it. They were right, I dug it big time. From the unnerving
performances by Joan Cusack and Jeff Bridges, to the interesting script
and plot, down to the nice direction and cinematography, I was hooked
from start to finish.
Yes there are plot holes, but a lot of
them can be argued away, and the film is just way too good in the
moment not to enjoy it. This isn't a groundbreaking flick, but it is
well made, and looks pretty good too. Any film that can make flipping
through a yearbook visually interesting is doing its job.
Not for the faint of heart, or for those who need formulaic films.
The "how to" on making a
good thriller. - 27 March 2004
"Arlington Road" is the perfect example for how thrillers should be
good story, a good atmosphere, good actors and voila! you have got a
good thriller. "Arlington Road" has got it all and it's a near perfect
movie that is a must see for the thriller fans.
beginning sets the mood for the rest of the movie. It's atmospheric and
tense right till the good ending. I'll admit that there are some slow
moments and some distracting plot lines but it doesn't take away the
tension or ruins the atmosphere in any kind of way.
The movie is
very well casted with Jeff Bridges as the more and more paranoid
getting Michael Faraday and Tim Robbins as his neighbour that he begins
to suspects of being a terrorist. Both main actors pull of really well
and help to created the good thriller atmosphere that this movie has.
Good thriller with a great atmosphere, story, actors and ending that
will stay with you forever.
Whoah - 15 October 2000
is a heavy movie about the people who's paranoia and suspicion turn out
to be the truth. In Arlington Road, we have a college professor who
teaches a course on terrorism, so when the ideal neighbors move in next
door well i know i'd like tim robbins and joan cusack next door to me)
we slowly grows suspicious. As it appears his class is getting to his
head, he really is correct, and whoah.
Unforgettable chiller - 8
is one chilling movie. It begins with the opening sequence, when we see
a little boy dazed in the street, his hand bloody, and Prof. Michael
Farraday (Jeff Bridges) comes to his aid. The boy is the son of Oliver
and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack), a nice, suburban couple.
But things start to change. Behind the fašade of suburbia, Farraday,
already paranoid as a terrorism expert and as the widower of an FBI
agent murdered in a Waco-style raid, starts to suspect that the Langs
are quite different that he expected. From there, the story twists and
turns towards one disturbing conclusion.
Arlington Road not only
has a bizarre and twisting story, but has a unique visual look as well,
thanks to director Mark Pellington. In fact, the film at times looks
similar the the music video for Pearl Jam's song `Jeremy', which
Pellington also directed. Bridges, perhaps the most underrated actor
there is, is terrific and has a similar role in many ways to 1994's
Blown Away. Robbins is an actor who is so versatile, that he can play
both the innocent simpleton (The Hudsucker Proxy) or a conniving
senatorial candidate (Bob Roberts), here displays a few new sides to
his personality. Joan Cusack is also excellent in perhaps what is even
a creepier role. This one will stay with you after the lights come up.
Unappreciated Film - 10 October 2002
is one of those films that will be dug up many decades from now and
folks will be questioning why it wasn't one of the best films of that
This film is shocking, it's makes one feel paranoid, it
makes one question government, security, makes one realize how deep
love can go and that is love of spouse/country/political beliefs.
film provides a great performance by Jeff Bridges, with excellent
performances by Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack. Most of all, it will get
you to think. This is not a film for those who do not want to venture
into a different type of a mind of a "terrorist", this is not the film
for those who want to see happy endings, especially if you want the
government to come in and save characters. It doesn't. This is a film
that takes every notion and bends them, especially the subject matter.
1999, who would wonder if their neighbors harbored any ill will? You do
now. In 1999 who would think that terrorist think this way? You do now.
In 1999 who would think that anyone as normal looking, white upper
middle classed, as those neighbors were associated with fanatics? You
do now. this film, for all its glory and mistakes, IS a view into a
future..or a past..or both?
Many posters are upset with the
ending. The ending is shocking, I'll agree. A let down? Nope. Did I see
it coming? NO. Hence my like for the film.
There is so much in
this film from the opening frame to the end, its a shame just to call
it suspense, its a shame to just call it a thriller, its a shame just
to call it political and its a shame just to say it terrorist get away
with it all....it does all of those things, but what it does the most
is have you look into the faces of all of this and understand how the
innocent can be made into "whatever" by "whomever". The question is,
whom do we trust in the climate as the movie proposes? The non-happy
ending provides a clue.
I recommend this film highly, but only
if you are prepared to view it at least twice, open minded, and without
politics. It's a hard swallow, but a damn good script that will have
you biting your nails at points, and maybe upset you in the end because
of the conclusion. But taking risks are important in film, making you
think far beyond the time the film has ended are too. Take a chance and
view this one, see for yourself.
Great movie, esp Jeff Bridges -
23 June 2000
go from "The Dude" in Big Lebowski to David Farraday only proves
Bridges is one of the most versatile actors out there. He over-emotes a
little in this film but he's great all the same.
The film itself
is chilling and leaves you asking a lot of questions. Even if you don't
believe in right-wing conspiracies and govt. conspiracies you have to
acknowledge that this anti-government sentiment is out there in a lot
of people; most people are merely annoyed but many are angry and their
invisibility is their greatest asset. The way the film portrayed Tim
Robbins' associates is one of the best examples.
Arlington Road was one of the few films in recent years that really
(WARNING: ** SPOILERS** ONLY READ THIS LAST ONE IF YOU HAVE
SEEN THE MOVIE)
You are all missing the
point.. - 23 March 2004
of the comments I've read refer to coincidences and the like with this
film. The point, and I'm surprised no one else seems to have noticed,
was that these WEREN'T coincidences. These people set the guy up from
the very beginning. They had him watched, and they led him with a
carrot on a stick the whole way to get HIM to be the one to take the
blame, the "single man" theory. If you need any proof of this, refer to
the last lines of the movie, where Mrs. Lang asks "Any word yet?" and
Mr. Lang answers "No, but they'll let us know.". Looking for their next
victim. The fact that Bridges' wife was killed and that he is a
conspiracy theory nut was the whole reason they sought him out.
Great movie, phenomenal ending.
favorite quote from Arlington Road:
favorite scene in Arlington Road:
talks about the ending to Arlington Road (and it really is a memorable
one) but for my money there is one scene in the movie that is even
better. Get ready for one of the most unexpected and
jump scares I have ever seen in a movie. No one EVER sees it
coming and I
have NEVER seen it fail to make a person who is watching the movie for
the first time scream out or flinch. I won't tell
it is in the movie, but let's just say that it involves Joan Cusack.
And that it comes out of nowhere. Bet you won't be
ready for it. :)
Road at the IMDB
Road at Wikipedia
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Movies That Deserve More Love