Arlington Road (1999)
Directed by Mark Pellington

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* ½

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Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges), a paranoic college professor teaching a class on terrorism, begins to suspect his neighbor (Tim Robbins) may be a terrorist.

Mark Pellington's Arlington Road is a monotonous, hackneyed work enlivened only by a number of faults so preposterous that they are actually funny.

There is, in fact, very little in Arlington Road for which the film can be recommended. The acting is generally exaggerated and silly. Bridges, in particular, overacts with amazing gusto. The narrative is uninteresting, predictable, and forced. The various red herrings included to misdirect the viewer are almost comically inept, and the movie's surprise ending is absolutely uninspired. Arlington Road is just pathetic.

The director has, however, enlivened his film with a number of utterly bizarre and unintentionally funny scenes, such as that in which Faraday arrives at his neighbor's house to find a strange party reminiscent of a gathering of Satanists from Rosemary's Baby. I was, at that particular point, stunned by the sheer silliness being revealed to me. Such moments, and the movie's numerous other faults, do, I will admit, occasionally make it entertaining. The viewer able to enjoy bumbling filmmaking, who can laugh at incompetence and ham-handedness, may well enjoy this and similar parts of Arlington Road, but even such a person is likely to find most of the film more tedious than funny.

Review by Keith Allen

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