Arlington Road (15)

Review by Jack Foley

PSYCHOLOGICAL thrillers don’t come much better than this - an intelligent and surprising urban nightmare which benefits from two great performances. Jeff Bridges stars as a university lecturer in terrorism, still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his FBI wife.

A chance encounter with the son of the family across the street brings him into contact with Tim Robbins’ seemingly perfect architect - but the more Bridges learns about Robbins, the more sinister his neighbour seems. Could it be that rural suburbia is harbouring a terrorist, or is Bridges merely paranoid?

By refusing to conform to Hollywood tradition, director Mark Pellington transforms a routine premise into a first rate thriller which always manages to stay one step ahead of the viewer.

Some interesting questions are posed about terrorism and society in general, with the possibility of evil lurking around every corner. How well do people really know their neighbours and, indeed, themselves?

Credit must also go to Pellington for the way in which he builds the tension - his movie begins with a very startling image before slowing right down to an almost pedestrian pace. By the end, however, you’ll be almost gasping for breath as the reality of the situation becomes evident. And what an ending - both brilliant and surprising.

Performance-wise, Arlington Road also delivers. The under-rated Bridges is typically colossal, while Robbins clearly has fun in a role which casts him against type as the ‘villain’.

On the small screen, Arlington Road loses none of its impact. It is an inspired and intelligent thriller which is worth a place in anyone’s video collection.