A dazzling Mark Rylance conducts a succinct camera piece flavored with Hitchcock and 1940s film noir

A dazzling Mark Rylance conducts a succinct camera piece flavored with Hitchcock and 1940s film noir

‘The tailor of the mafia’ to be released on May 20, is the director’s first film Graham Moorebest known for winning an Oscar for writing ‘The Imitation Game’ (2014), here also writing alongside co-writer Johnathan McClainwho also acts as executive producer, a very classic and unusual text ideal for the cast of British superstars Mark Rylance and Simon Russell Beale display a talent that is sometimes lacking in much bigger movies.

Less self-important than Moore’s prestige project, this film is much more stimulating and contained, recalling the great classics of criminal cinema of the 30s and 40spieces that weave stories in medias res, using an exemplary narrative economy to remind us that a good story does not need great exteriors or spectacle, but trust in the viewer and well-written and interpreted texts.

In ‘The Mafia Tailor’ we meet Leonard (Mark Rylance), a tailor (cutter, according to him) from Savile Row who has moved to Chicago, an educated and calm-spoken man from the UK. Who must deal with a group of rough-hewn mid-1950s American thugs. His shop caters to the underworld, offering careful tailoring of suits to the public, but also hosting gangsters coming and going on a daily basis.

Retro classicism without effects

Leonard allows customers to also use the store as a mailbox, sending and receiving messages from The Outfit, a crime syndicate that has taken an interest in the local Chicago gang. The leader of the family, Roy (Simon Russell Beale) doesn’t bother Leonard and Leonard looks away from any tips he can hear in the store. The assistant of him Mable of him (zoey deutch), has some contacts with Roy’s son, Richie (Dylan O’Brien), who do not like the owner of the store, who has reached a fatherly relationship with his assistant.

One night Richie shows up at the store after hours helped by Francis (johnny flynn), after a skirmish with a rival gang begins a plot that compromises the owner, who must manage to prevent underworld affairs from compromising him in an endless night. A simple, very effective premise, reminiscent of classic crime films like ‘Cayo Largo’ (Key Largo, 1948) or Hitchcock thrillers like ‘La Soga’ (Rope, 1948).


Rylance is the big attraction in ‘The Mob Tailor’, creating an unexpectedly layered character with a soft voice and good-natured calmbut that when, suddenly, he laughs, it is absolutely disconcerting. In one of the best lines in the film, she mentions one of the mobsters who was “in the war.” “At your age?” she answers her, while Leonard concentrates a lot of life and secrets in his terse answer: “The other war”, which is delivered in the way that only great actors can, conveying as much sadness as wisdom and respect.

The art of cinema in a single space

Set on a single wintry night in Chicago, the entire film takes place in Leonard’s tailor shop, a small but elegant place even with its dimly lit brown walls. All the difficulties and reservations that a story limited to a single setting can offer, vanish into a compelling story and tense in which what happens on the other side of the door plays in favor of claustrophobia and the situation to the limit increasingly dangerous for the protagonist.

The 21 best film noir movies of all time

Dick Pope’s photography squeezes the possibilities of space, with a heavy light where a particularly garish costume hardly stands out and plays in favor of the narrative elegance of a story full of intelligent and vibrant twists that are colored with an interesting parallel between Leonard’s plan and his mastery of pattern making and cutting suitselevating the craftsmanship of the trade to a terrain that only great characters are capable of entering.


The script for ‘The Mob Tailor’ could make for a pretty good play for future timeless performances, but it would be difficult for any actor to follow in Rylance’s footsteps, what he does make clear is that cinema made in the pandemic needed fewer horror movies made in zoomquarantine diaries or video clips with two characters looking out the window and more works capable of creating cinema with limitations, in the style of the B noir series and suspense without the need for tracking shots of the most classic and austere cinema.


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