ARLINGTON ROAD (1999)
In this tense thriller, a man begins to suspect his neighbors are not what they appear to be — and their secrets could be deadly. Michael Faraday (played by Jeff Bridges) is a college professor whose wife, an FBI agent, was killed in the line of duty by members of an extremist right-wing terrorist group, leaving him to raise their nine-year-old son by himself. One day, he saves the life of a boy he sees on the street. The child turns out to be the son of his new neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack). Michael soon becomes friendly with the grateful Langs, who seem as cheerfully bland as anyone could hope from denizens of suburbia. But the better Michael gets to know Oliver, the more he becomes convinced that something isn’t quite right. An imaginative action film! Tight, ingenious! Darker and more intimate than you expect. A tight, well-rounded piece of suspense/thriller filmmaking with an electric performance by Bridges. The script for “Arlington Road”, written by Ehren Kruger, was discovered when it won the Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting competition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This film is only the sixth winner of the competition to actually be produced. You need only subtract a few letters from director Mark Pellington’s name to get the word “Arlington.” The car crash during the climactic chase scene was unplanned; the plan was for the car to duck behind the oncoming bus and complete the left turn. When the collision occurred, the car trunk sprung open, revealing the bright blue sandbags that had been placed there to allow certain stunts. The quick cuts following the collision are necessary to avoid showing the sandbags. Subsequent shots including the car had already been filmed, and show a markedly less-damaged car. Michael Faraday, Jeff Bridges’ character, was also the name of a real-life chemist and scientist who did pioneering work in the field of electromagnetism. Michael Faraday is also the name of a street in Reston, Virginia, in which the film takes place.