Arlington Road was not what I thought it was going to be, and unfortunately I don’t mean that in a good way. I used to get this movie confused with Lost Highway for some reason (which I’ve also never seen), and since I know that movie is really crazy and weird, I guess I thought this movie was, too. And it’s a little crazy, but not weird, and sort of boring.
I think I had a similar problem with Arlington Road as I did with The Game. For pretty much all of the movie, Michael (Jeff Bridges) suspects his neighbors Oliver (Tim Robbins) and Cheryl (Joan Cusack) are domestic terrorists. He has ups and downs with his theory; sometimes thinking he’s right and sometimes thinking he’s overreacting. Eventually though, it’s clear that they are terrorists and Michael tries to stop them. Instead of succeeding at that, though, he ends up being the fall guy for the terrorists’ plot, which is to blow up the FBI building in D.C., and the whole thing ends up being blamed on Michael after the bomb kills him. I just wasn’t really surprised by that at all. Just like The Game, I found no real reason to not go along with the main character and think that they were terrorists. And when it was clear that they were, I assumed they were going to rope Michael in on it, because why else would they even be engaging with him? So when that really was the end, I was sort of disappointed.
I also thought it was distracting how the movie references fake events that are clearly based on real events. Michael’s wife dies before the movie begins, as an FBI agent in the field, and when the scene of her death is played back it’s extremely similar to Ruby Ridge, which I think is pretty famous. Michael is a professor, and he teaches about a domestic terrorist attack on a building that included a large daycare center . . . so that’s obviously the Oklahoma City Bombing. It’s just weird to incorporate obviously real things and say they’re not real.
I remember seeing this in middle or high school and being very scared of this film. Watching it now it was mostly boring but seeing it as a kid, after September 11th and living in the same area that this took place, I wanted nothing to do with it and I kind of remember being angry that I saw it. Maybe I was watching it because of some class I was in or something.
I will not be watching this again but I’m glad Elizabeth saw this, too, so we can talk about it, but with both this and Narc we kind of had a lot of duds this weekend.