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Arlington Road (1999, Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins)



Mark Pellington’s taut conspiracy thriller trades on America’s fear of not just the enemy without but the enemy within, with JEFF BRIDGES as Michael Faraday, an expert in terrorism, discovering his subject lives down the road.

The film opens with Faraday coming across a badly injured boy. Rushing him to hospital, he finds that his parents are Oliver and Cheryl Lang (TIM ROBBINS and JOAN CUSACK), who live just down the street Faraday has moved into, Arlington Road. The three become friends, particularly since Faraday is still trying to get over the death of his wife, a FBI agent killed in a botched raid.

He’s trying to get back on the rails through work and the love of his son Grant (SPENCER TREAT CLARK) and girlfriend Brooke (HOPE DAVIS). But as the relationship develops with his neighbours, he starts to notice inconsistencies in Oliver and Cheryl’s tales of their past. Suspicious, he use his expertise to investigate and what he uncovers is frightening. But Oliver hasn’t remained free by chance and he can turn the tables on Faraday to the point where the hunter may well become the hunted.

Although somewhat overtaken by the events of September 11, the film still taps into atrocities like Timothy McVeigh’s bombing in Oklahoma City which saw a nation look inward to spot some of its own demons. Bridges character’s job makes him better equipped than John Doe to investigate his suspicions but the real plaudits go to Robbins and Cusack, he starting off with the persona seen in Jacob’s Ladder and The Shawshank Redemption, she slightly goofy but then becoming not just creepy but distinctly dangerous as they shed their carapace of all-Americaness to reveal their true colours.

production details
USA | 117 minutes | 1999

Director: Mark Pellington
Script: Ehren Kruger

Jeff Bridges as Michael Faraday
Tim Robbins as Oliver Lang
Joan Cusack as Cheryl Lang
Hope Davis as Brooke Wolfe
Robert Gossett as FBI Agent Whit Carver
Mason Gamble as Brady Lang
Spencer Treat Clark as Grant Faraday
Stanley Anderson as Dr. Archer Scobee
Viviane Vives as Nurse
Lee Stringer as Orderly
Darryl Cox as Troopmaster
Loyd Catlett as Delivery Man
Sid Hillman as Phone Technician
Auden Thornton as Hannah Lang
Mary Ashleigh Green as Daphne Lang
John Hussey as Accident Detective
Grant Garrison as Student Kemp
Jenni Tooley as Ponytail Girl
Laura Poe as Leah Faraday
Christopher Dahlberg as FBI Buckley
Gabriel Folse as FBI Marks
Hunter Burkes as Hutch Parsons
Diane Peterson as Ma Parsons
Josh Ridgway as 18-Year-Old Parsons
Hans Stroble as 16-Year-Old Parsons
Michelle Du Bois as Parsons Girl