Maybe I'm very easily amused, but I thought this was one of the best movies I've ever seen about the sinking abyss of paranoia. I think it's very difficult to make a believable movie about paranoia, and 'Arlington Road' is very believable--as least, while you're watching it.
Admittedly, after you've seen it, you'll see the holes, and how you've been manipulated--but while you're watching it, you'll be just as confused as Bridges' character, wondering, "is he right? Or just a nutcase?"
This movie operates entirely on the psychological plane. There aren't lots of cool explosions (well, OK, a few) and there isn't an expensive car being smashed every five minutes or someone's head being blown open with a handgun. Yet it leaves you breathless, panicked, scared, and disturbed. How easy is *that* to do without endless special effects?
Some have complained that the timing of Robbins' character catching Bridges red-handed over and over was lame and unbelievable. I think they've missed the point--it adds to the confusion, the paranoia, and the madness of Bridges' character, and to ours also.
In fact, the entire movie is structured this way. Just when the plot seems predictable and we think we can settle back and watch it follow a familiar formula, the rug is yanked away and we don't know what to believe. This happens not once, but constantly.
If you have to categorize it, think of it as 'The Sting', with a dastardly political agend--in other words, the gentile crime of that 1920's piece fast-forwarded into the dismal world of moral-less America, circa 1999.
The ending was extremely un-Hollywood, and left me angry, disturbed, and unsettled. And this, friends, is why Hollywood doesn't make movies like this. All anyone has complained about is how unsettling it is. Well, the next time you watch a movie end in a boring, predictable way, remember that it's probably making more money and wooing more critics and fans than 'Arlington Road'. (Reminds one of what they kept saying in 'The Player': "because *that's* reality!")
As an aside, the opening credits were the spookiest I've ever seen. They set the tone perfectly for a movie that reflects the existential, empty, lonely, scary, frightening world that may or may not be right out our very door.
If you enjoy watching a movie that will cause you to slam your fist on the arm of your chair, put you in a bad mood for the next day, make you yell at the news "YEAH RIGHT!" and wonder if you'll ever know "The Truth" about ANYTHING, this is your flick. I recommend it to anyone who wants some vinegar to balance the sugar of everything else made by Hollywood, and a reminder that things are rarely what they seem.