Arlington Road (***) – Some movies live or die by the strength of their ending. A bad ending can make the previous two hours feel like a waste of time while a movie like Arlington Road lives by its ending and lives very well, making its ride all the more worthwhile.Granted this is a film that exists because of little coincidences in the plot that may have you thinking back into it once you’ve arrived at the conclusion – I still have questions about one aspect of the plot that leads to the jarring climax, but it’ll take a second viewing to verify it. Little coincidences have always been present in good thrillers though. Look at the film’s of Hitchcock and the way movies like Rear Window and Vertigo play out. Those films are full of coincidences, but it’s how they are handled that made those films the classics that they are. This film is very Hitchcockian in nature, full of paranoia and plot twists with everyday guys dealing with the nature of evil in the world. The film hooks you immediately with its pre-title sequence and never lets go, taking its time to set up its premise as well as its characters. Jeff Bridges gives yet another good performance as a man who’s been on the edge for a while, trying to convince himself unsuccessfully that he’s not. A few scenes are perhaps played a little over-the-top but they are countered by Tim Robbins mostly quiet performance as the mysterious neighbor. As the plot thickens, so does Robbins’ character. But the creepiest moments really come courtesy of Joan Cusack – some of them represented in her extreme hospitality and others come just from mere facial expressions. There isn’t a lot of her, but she’s so good in the time she has.The movie has a lot more going on for it than just the mere mechanics of a Hollywood thriller. It’s raises a lot of good issues, some of which you’ll be discussing after you leave the theater – especially after its incredible ending, which really demands a second viewing. Arlington Road will not be remembered along with the great films of Hitchcock, but in the summer of 1999, it’s one of the most entertaining rides on the market.