The Outfit (2022) Movie Explained: Ending & Themes Analyzed
The Outfit Movie Ending Explained & Themes Analyzed: Graham Moore’s The Outfit (2022) is a sleek, old-fashioned slow-burn that is reminiscent of a chamber piece that finds gangsters stories mostly found in pulpy novels. Taking place almost entirely over the course of a single night and set in a single location, The Outfit matches its well-cast stars’ charisma with a low-key gangster tale about people trying to outwit each other. Precisely crafted, with an air of suave pretense seen in gangster movies, this is a straight-out suspenseful tale of murder and deception, an ideal watch for someone looking for some nostalgic movie-watching experience.
The Outfit (2022) Movie Plot Summary & Synopsis:
The film opens on a cold night with a calming, precise, and stylized narration by Leonard Burling (played by Mark Rylance). He is an English tailor (or as he would like to call himself ‘a cutter’) who set up shop in Chicago after moving away from his country in 1956. The narration also introduces us to his small cloth shop and how running it, with his excellently crafted suits has become his life’s only goal.
The fact that he is really good at it, makes him really adore and enjoy the work he does. He is ably helped by his receptionist Mable (played by Zoey Deutch), who he considers to be no less than a daughter, although Mable doesn’t really care for that sort of connection with him, her dreams surpassing the neighborhood and that of Chicago’s dark underbelly to somewhere new and fresh, she is still nice to him. Although, she longs for a place where she can make a fresh start and be rid of the burden of not being able to see the world.
However, with all the good things that we see around the shop, the bad ones are not too far away either. Leonard’s shop, which is a place for gentlemen to get the best piece of clothing in the neighborhood, is also a sort of middle-ground for communication between the different gang members that run the curb. There’s a small letterbox in the back of the shop, where gang members, mostly from the local clan headed by Roy Boyle (one of the first customers that Leonard had) come for key pieces of information going around the town.
There are regular customers and visitors who come in and out to check on the letterbox, most consequently Richie (Roy Boyle’s son played by Dylan O’Brien) and his trusted henchman Francis (Johnny Flynn). Leonard is all too aware of all the dark shit happening around him, but his focused gaze has gotten used to it. He has trained himself to avoid all the darkness happening around him, making sure that his business runs smoothly around all the violence.
He is a little worried though. Mable, who has been going about with the spoiled Boyle child Richie, could have herself in a dangerous situation. He even tries to warn her but his efforts go in vain when she dismisses any sort of connection or affair with him. On one of the few nights on which the film is set in, Mable and Richie land up in the shop after one of their dating adventures. Leonard, who pretends to be sleeping in the backroom of the shop, gets to know that Richie is not too fond of Francis, who is supposedly near and dearer to his pops Roy Boyle.
Meanwhile, Richie and Francis have been receiving letters from ‘The Outfit,’ a secretive organization inscribed with their logo. This leads up to the night where most of the action takes place. Francis and Richie rush into the shop, where Richie is bleeding out due to the bullet that went through him during a head-on collision with the rival gang ‘The La Fontaines.’ While things get complicated, Francis, being unable to take Richie to a hospital because of the gang violence going about, asks Leonard to stitch his wound up.
He also talks about receiving a package with a tape recorder and a note that describes that the Boyle family clan has a ‘rat,’ an informant who has been spilling information about their activities to the FBI and that the tape needs to be listened to right away in order to put an end to the violence outside. So, Francis warns Leonard to take care of the tape and of Richie until he wakes up. He then goes out to find a tape recorder in order to listen to the tape and listen to who the rat actually is.
What follows is a series of deceptive measures and crisscrosses where Leonard kind of manipulates the scenario at hand for a reason that the audience is unaware of.
Who is ‘The Rat’?
The situation of who is ‘The Rat’ keeps changing. For reasons of situational and conventional turns, director Graham Moore uses this plot device as perfect fodder to keep things incredibly engaging.
The first mention of ‘The Rat’ comes out when Francis leaves for the tape, telling Leonard about the possibility of a person within the family or the people involved with them, cheating them for some ulterior motives.
So, when Richie wakes up from the blood loss and Leonard’s stitches, he gets to talking. In one of their conversations, Leonard claims that he is, in fact, ‘The Rat,’ which is then dismissed by Richie because he has no motives to betray the family that had allowed him to set up shop in the neighborhood.
Richie later claims that he thinks his father’s confidant and his partner Francis is ‘The Rat.’ However, it is completely visible, both to Leonard and the audience, that his claim comes from a point of utter jealousy and has no concrete value to it. However, Leonard decides to use this key piece of information and jealousy in the air in his favor.
Coming to the question of Who is ‘The Rat’? It is later revealed that it is, in fact, Mable who has been the rat all along. She has been selling information about the Boyle family’s various shenanigans to both ‘The LaFontaines’ and anyone else who would pay her good money. This piece of information comes to the foreground in the last act when Francis is the only one left in the shop with Mable and Leonard and is about to either kill Mable, or the two of them together.
Why does Francis kill Richie?
Coming back to the action that sets things in motion, after Richie wakes up and Leonard realizes that he has qualms with Francis, he plots an elaborate plan to bring both of them to wits with each other. When Francis arrives back at the shop after going out, Leonard goes out to open the door and cleverly plants doubt in his mind.
He claims that ever since Richie has woken up he has been feeling hazy due to the gun wound and has been talking non-stop about Francis being the rat. Leonard also hides the tape, the most important piece of thing at the moment which rattles both Francis and Richie.
They point guns at each other and Richie pulls the trigger first without succeeding to hit Francis. Thus, in retaliation and possible self-defense, Francis fires his gun and kills Richie, without thinking about the consequence it would have (since Roy Boyle was about to arrive there soon).
In haste, he puts Richie’s body inside a trunk in the cutting room.
Why did Leonard leave London and come to Chicago?
All through the narrative, the film keeps playing and deceiving. Leonard is the key holder of this supposed deception. Every time the question comes up, his reasons to leave London change; be it coming from Francis, Richie, Roy Boyle, or the audience; there is always a different answer.
Firstly, he proposes that he left London due to the war. The war that he says he was a part of (cheekily saying the first war and not the second one). Then, when he is asked about the reason again, he says that he left London due to the rage of ‘the blue jeans.’ As a cutter, he was oddly against the new fashion in town and wanted to leave straight away to make suits for a living.
Later, in the face of Roy Boyle’s emotional confrontation and Mable’s violent interrogation, he confesses that he left London due to the crimes that were committed on his curb. This is possibly the most accurate and correct answer, though we also learn an extension of the reason later. He says that due to the crimes, his shop in London was burnt down with his wife and daughter burning alive with it.
Who was Leonard in his past life?
The above question also brings us to one of the main conclusions about Leonard’s true identity. In the middle of the final moments in the film, he slowly takes his suit off and folds his sleeves to reveal a whole bunch of tattoos imbibed on his body.
These tattoos, for anyone who has ever seen any big crime syndicate movies will know, are the implication of a gang member. We, thus, get to know that Leonard was a violent gang member of one of the most influential crime families in London and that he wanted to leave behind a life of violence.
The crime family got a hint of his intentions and thus set fire to his shop; killing his family.
The Outfit (2022) Movie Ending Explained:
The titular question as to what ‘The Outfit’ stands for, is answered by Roy Boyle somewhere in the third act of the film. He sits Leonard down and tells him that the Boyle family has been trying to get in touch with The Outfit – a criminal organization that is run by Al Capone. He says that joining the organization would mean the next step for the Boyle’s and the envelopes with their stamp on them are The Outfit’s way of reaching out to them.
He also tells him that the organization has warned him that the FBI has planted a bug and that his son hasn’t gone out in the cold just to listen to the tape, without his coat hanging in the backroom. This is the part where Leonard is about to get outed for what he is up to, but is soon cut short by Francis’s arrival with Mable, who claims that Mable has been Richie’s lover and that he found traces of blood on her carpet (claiming that she has something to do with Richie’s absence).
Boyle is fuming as he asks Mable to be interrogated, in spite of Leonard’s attempt to save her. Just about then, the phone rings, with Leonard receiving the call saying that Richie has been found and he has been hiding from the LaFontaines, requesting his father to pick him up. Roy Boyle reluctantly starts to leave, but Francis asks to stay back in order to understand what game Mable and Leonard are up to.
Realizing that Mable and Leonard are up to no good and that the call was just about the members not finding a trace of Richie, Francis points the gun at the girl. He gives them both two options of possible survival, but Leonard smartly gives a counteroffer that involves Mable staying alive. He says that, since Boyle has gone out, Mable can call the La Fontaines who will then ambush and kill him, leaving all of them the only way to survive out of this sticky situation that they have found themselves in.
Mable calls Madame LaFontaine (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who offers her a deal of a but load of cash in exchange for the tape that Leonard has kept hidden. Since the La Fontaines are about to arrive, Francis hides in the back closet, asking Mable to signal him when they are done with the exchange. However, Mable and Leonard cross Francis and signal them about Francis’ presence.
This results in a stand-off where Leonard puts his last reveals of having emptied Francis’ gun earlier that evening. In haste, and in a split second of realization, Madame LaFontains’s bodyguards shoot him down.
The LaFontaines leave, taking the cassette in their possession. This is where Leonard brings out his final card, where he says that ‘The Outfit’ was never in contact with the Boyles and it was him who has been sending those letters with the organization’s insignia. The tape that he has given them was just his own ramblings about how a suit is constructed (the same we hear all through the film as narration).
He then reveals the actual tape recorder that he has kept in the room that has recorded all the happenings, including The LaFointains’ involvement. He tells Mable that she can hand that over to the FBI, ridding them of any kind of connection to everything that perspired that night or before that. Now that everything is sorted, with Mable’s future secure, Leonard gets dressed to leave. He sets fire to the shop and gets ready to leave when the fatally wounded Francis wakes up.
In the final reveal and as mentioned above, Leonard uncovers his true identity as an enforcer for a gang in London and that Francis doesn’t have an upper hand over him. He also tells him how his previous life with the gang was the reason why his shop in Savile Row (a place where he learned stitching) was burnt down. He then stabs Francis with his most trusted weapon, a pair of shears (scissors).
The Outfit (2022) Movie Themes Explained:
There are no explicitly mentioned themes in The Outfit, but one of the reasons why Leonard plots against the Boyles, in spite of having nothing against them, comes from his experience.
The circle of violence:
Leonard knows that in spite of all the good treatment from the Boyles, violence will soon get to him. The plan shows how he was now ready to take over these gang shenanigans and wanted Mable to have a better fate than the one that he and his family had to face back in London. The entirety of The Outfit is about ending that circle of violence or making an effort to end it before moving on.
Outcasting the Refuge:
Another theme that the film vaguely hints at is how refugees are treated in a country that isn’t their own. In spite of having set up a business of his own, Leonard is treated as an outcast. The way everyone, including the Boyle, calls him ‘English’ instead of allowing him to be a part of the place and calling him by his name is a hint enough.
Similarly, when Madame LaFontaine, a french woman who leads a crime family that she built on her own, is treated badly by Francis. She makes it a point to make him aware of how wrong his connexions are by bringing him down on all fours.
The Outfit (2022) Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
The Outfit (2022) Cast – Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O’Brien, Simon Russell Beale, Nikki Amuka-Bird