Arlington Road

Bomb Rating: 

Why does listening to Jeff Bridges give me the impression that somebody just injected his face with a turkey baster full of Novocain? Did he have an accident? A stroke? Did he eat a few dozen peanut butter sandwiches and then run out of milk? Or did a random moviegoer sock him in the mouth in retaliation for "White Squall"?

"Arlington Road" is basically "The Parallax View" for the '90s. Bridges plays professor Michael Faraday, who thinks his neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack), are Mr. and Mrs. Unabomber. This would be great if he had any proof, but mostly Faraday is just paranoid because his wife, an FBI agent, was killed during the raid of a right-wing gun-nut compound. Fortunately, his former teaching assistant, Brooke Wolfe (Hope Davis), is around to soften that particular blow.

"Arlington Road" is a film that understands suspense like Jesse Helms understands Hip Hop. Since something odd is going on in the Lang household, spooky music has to drown out every single interaction between Faraday and Lang, or between their respective kids. Isn't it enough that the Lang kids look like castoffs from "Village of the Damned"?

If Faraday wanted to make it any more obvious that he thought Lang guilty of something, he could have worn a sandwich board that read "Blink twice if you're the Unabomber," because whenever he speaks to Faraday, Faraday appears as though he's got the runs and needs to find a potty real quick. Director Mark Pellington's message is that the terrorist network is more complicated and insidious than we ever imagined. This should do wonders for communities across the country, where neighbors everywhere are already exercising their Second Amendment right to gun each other down over untrimmed hedges and barking dogs. Could it actually possible for Americans to be more paranoid?

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