Arlington Road - B-
Viewed July 11, 1999 at Lincoln Square

I'm of two minds about Arlington Road. On one hand, it's a superbly directed thriller. Mark Pellington's style has an overwrought expressionism that works well in tandem with Jeff Bridges' performance as a suspicious college professor of terroism, which defines livewire, shaky-hands paranoia. On the other, that thriller rests on a rather shoddy foundation; Ehren Kruger's script has some of the most glaring logical leaps I've noticed while actually watching a film. And I don't just mean the film's twist ending, which like that of Primal Fear came as a shock when I was in my seat, but started to unravel the entire film as I chewed on the implications on the way home. I'm talking about more fundamental lapses of logic, such as the bit about the Bible in Mission: Impossible , which create flat-out contradictions. There's a scene near the end where Bridges (now operating under full-blown paranoia) notices a delivery van while he's in a shopping center. (Warning: spoilers ahead.) We've already seen Bridges' girlfriend (Hope Davis) follow a similar van and leave a message on Bridges' machine, and then get killed by the conspirators. Only problem is the conspirators erased the message. So there is absolutely no freaking way that he could make any kind of logical connection. It's lazy scriptwriting, and it undermines the superb work of the cast.[1]

[1](Added Aug 6, 1999) Skander Halim has informed me in e-mail correspondence that there is a scene where Bridges notices that delivery van in Robbins' driveway. While I still think it's a rather tall leap of logic, the scene in question is no longer the flat-out impossibility I mentioned in my review. Accordingly, ignore the last few sentences in the second paragraph above.