Tuesday, 5 July 2016


suture is a hitchcockian thriller with a brilliantly surreal edge that spins a complex plot around identical twin brothers vincent (michael harris) and clay (dennis haysbert). after reuniting at their father's funeral vincent invites clay to stay with him only to have him killed moments later via a remote car bomb. vincent's plan was to switch identities with clay so that the police, who suspect him of murdering his father, will drop their investigation. the problem is, clay survives the explosion, but due to a severe case of amnesia he now thinks he is vincent.
while the plot may sound convoluted it's really only there so the filmmakers have something to hang their ideas on and directors scott mcgehee and david siegel have plenty of ideas. this is a film about identity and about what our identity and sense of self is made up of. it opens with a question worthy of a phd thesis - is our identity set; are we always the same person underneath? or can we change our identity?

clay is killed in the explosion and the man who wakes up in hospital is lead to believe he is vincent. he has vincent's friends, lives in his house and does all the things vincent used to do. except somewhere in there is clay. as we find out more and more about vincent it becomes clear he isn't a particularly pleasant character, whereas clay's kind heart and calm disposition endear him to everyone he meets, and yet they never suspect him of being anyone other than vincent. this dichotomy between the vincent that was and the vincent that is brings up all kinds of interesting ideas. how much is our identity defined by our standing in society? how much is it defined by how much money we have or where we live or our ethnicity? mcgehee and siegel clearly want us to be asking these questions because they highlight that last one in particular by casting a black actor, dennis haysbert, as clay. vincent and clay make it clear in their early dialogue that they are physically identical and everyone in the film world sees them as such, but other than being the same height they couldn't look more different. it's a move that could have come across as gimmicky or overly pretentious, but instead it highlights everything that's interesting about that central conflict over the importance of identity.

at the same time, suture works as an effective thriller. the whole time clay is piecing his life back together as vincent whilst trying to make sense of his memories of clay, the police are closing in. david graf, perhaps most recognisable as tackleberry from the police academy movies, puts in a very understated performance as the detective on vincent's trail that has a real authenticity to it. the tension in the story comes from wanting clay to figure out what happened to him before graf's character does and it's played with perfect pacing. however, the real standout performance of the film comes from dennis haysbert who brings a humanity and believability to clay that really carries us through a sometimes complex and surreal story.

suture looks amazing too and the blu-ray really makes the most of the the stunning black-and-white photography. if that weren't enough there's a fantastic making-of documentary on the disc in which mcgehee and siegel discuss how they had to make the film for almost nothing because they refused to change the central conceit of identical twins being played by a black actor and white actor. overall, suture is a fascinating, innovative film with so many layers and ideas to the story it will keep you thinking about it for a long time after the credits roll.

suture is available now from arrow video on dual format blu-ray and dvd

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