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Arlington Road


Arlington Road

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In the long-delayed thriller Arlington Road, Jeff Bridges plays a college professor and expert on terrorism who begins to suspect that new neighbor Tim Robbins might be a terrorist himself, perhaps because he does everything but paint "TERRORIST" across his garage door. In spite of his expertise, however, no one believes Bridges, who lost his FBI-agent wife in a Ruby Ridge-like raid on a right-wing gun enthusiast. Bridges and Robbins are two of the best actors working today, but both seem lost here. Bridges appears content to over-emote in his Chicken Little role at every opportunity, while Robbins' expression-lite performance looks like an audition tape for a new version of Frankenstein. That's not particularly at odds with Arlington Road's overall tone, however. The film gives Robbins a perpetually cheery Stepford wife in the form of the wasted Joan Cusack and a bunch of glassy-eyed Aryan children who could have stepped out of Village Of The Damned. It's a simpleminded movie that questionably uses real events, like Ruby Ridge and a thinly veiled version of the Oklahoma City bombing, and political issues as a mere backdrop for yet another my-new-friend-is-crazy thriller. That might be less objectionable if Arlington Road were an effective thriller. But while director Mark Pellington, who got his start in music videos, knows how to frame a shot and create a memorable image, he doesn't know how to keep things moving or make plausible the most ridiculous twist ending since The Rich Man's Wife, a finale that would require Robbins to be skilled not only at terrorism, but mesmerism and telepathy.