Quite a Thriller
“Suture” is a film that looks carefully at the nature of identity. It begins when the wealthy and self-assured Vincent (Michael Harris) meets his blue collar half-brother Clay (Dennis Haysbert) at their father’s funeral and is immediately struck by their similarity. He decides to murder Clay and take his identity but Clay survives the assassination attempt and has no memory of it all. He is mistaken for Vincent and here comes the trick— the fact that Harris is white and Haysbert is black makes this look at identity all the more interesting. The film holds our attention and is splendid to look at, but after it’s over we realize that there wasn’t much there, really, except for the visual ideas.
When Clay sees Vincent he remarks about how much they look alike even though their races are as different as black and white. In reality, they do not look alike in any way. However, the entire plot rests on the fact that everyone else thinks they look alike, too, we have to accept their “resemblance” however we like to do so.
The movie’s plot, which is never taken very seriously, is a double-reverse. Vincent knows he has an “identical” half-brother, but no one else does. Therefore, Vincent can murder Clay, whose body will be identified as Vincent’s and then he can murder their rich father and disappear with his fortune while everyone thinks he is dead.
SUTURE, from left: Dennis Haysbert, Sab Shimono, 1993, © Samuel Goldwyn
The plot is played out, with black and white photography, in a series of very stark settings. Everything is seen in terms of light and shadow emphasizing the notion of black and white. It’s a fine approach but unfortunately self-consciousness takes over. Scott McGehee and David Siegel seem to be more concerned with how the movie looks than how it plays.
“Suture” tends to be an atmospheric B-movie melodrama filled with modish existentialism and pared-down film noir. Everyone seems vaguely hypnotized, no one’s particularly nice to each other, and fate ticks away in the monochromatic background.
“Suture” is also compelling from the moment it begins. Two long-lost half brothers are supposed to strongly resemble each other but we immediately see that they don’t. Vincent makes the remark, “Our physical resemblance is striking.” Here I scratch my head. No one seems to notice that the two men are of different races and we realize the film is playing with the idea that people define themselves by physical appearance, family connections, income, the past and the future, among other things.
Vince’s original plan did not work and this gives the movie a whole new twist. The plan bomb in Clay’s car did not kill me but he is so badly burned that plastic surgery is necessary. It seems his memory was burned with the rest of him and he is told that he is Vincent even though we know that he is Clay. I cannot say another word of the plot without giving something away. What I will say is that the film very cleverly turns the spotlight on the viewer and not on the actors. How that happens, you will have to see for yourself.
This is a director approved special edition with many extra features:
– Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative
– High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Audio commentary with writer-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee
– All-new interviews with Siegel, McGehee, executive producer Steven Soderbergh, actor Dennis Haysbert, cinematographer Greg Gardiner, editor Lauren Zuckerman and production designer Kelly McGehee
– Deleted scenes
– Birds Past, Siegel & McGehee’s first short film, about two young San Franciscans who journey to Bodega Bay along the path set by Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s classic, The Birds.
– US theatrical trailer
– European theatrical trailer
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm