Arlington Road

Stars:  Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Hope Davis

Jeff Bridges plays Michael Faraday, a history teacher who becomes an expert on terrorist activities after his FBI wife is killed in a botched raid on the home of a suspected terrorist.

He’s deeply affected by the loss of his wife and blames the FBI for not doing its homework in the incident. That heightens his awareness of conspiratorial matters and leads him to suspect his new neighbor Oliver Lang (Tim Robbins) of possible terrorism when he catches him in a lie about a building blueprint seen in his home.

Faraday becomes acquainted with Lang as a result of having saved Lang’s son Brady who was seen wandering the streets, bloodied after allegedly playing with fireworks. Faraday and his former teaching assistant, now girlfriend, Brooke (Hope Davis), join the Langs (Oliver and his wife Cheryl, played by Joan Cusack) for dinner and it is there that certain clues lead Faraday to believe that something is not quite right with his neighbor.

In the meantime, Brady and Faraday’s unhappy son Grant become good friends which strengthens the connection between the two families.

Faraday’s investigation of Oliver Lang becomes an obsession that ends up nearly destroying his relationship with Brooke who thinks Faraday is simply drowning in sorrow over the loss of his wife, which he really is. But each new clue tells Faraday that he’s on the right track and Oliver Lang is a dangerous man.

The story is interesting from the start but flawed in that the very thing that Michael Faraday rails against – the FBI’s jumping the gun to arrest a suspected terrorist – is the same behavior that he exhibits – an assumption based on few facts. Only in Faraday’s case, he is correct.

Bridges is very good as the obsessed Faraday and Robbins does a wonderful job as Faraday’s object of attention.

There’s a wonderful bit of irony at the end that leads the audience to conclude you can’t believe everything you read and hear about in the news on such matters.

Lotta says:
this is a decent suspense yarn.