No announcement yet.


    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Suture

    Released By: Arrow Video
    Released On: July 5, 2016.
    Director: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
    Cast: Dennis Haysbert, David Graf, Dina Merrill, Mel Harris, Sab Shimono
    Year: 1993
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    *Please Note: This review is based on a blu-ray test disc from Arrow. The packaging and contents of the DVD disc will not be reviewed here.

    All things considered, I will say this about 1993's Suture....more than 24 hours after watching it, it's still on my mind. At the funeral for his murdered father, Clay Arlington (Dennis Haysbert) is compelled to speak to his estranged brother Vincent Towers (Michael Harris) when he notices the "striking resemblance" that the two siblings share. Despite Clay's obvious working class leanings, Vincent invites him out to his home in Phoenix, Arizona, with the idea that the two brothers will get to know each other a little bit better. After introducing Clay to his fancy automobile and lavish house, Vincent lays out a nice suit for him and gives him a fancy watch, ignoring Clay's insistence that he's not here to partake in Vincent's wealth.

    A sudden change of plans interferes with the reunion, however; Vincent is called away on business, with the promise that he'll only be gone for the night. Clay reluctantly agrees to drive his brother and his highfalutin wheels to the airport to catch his flight, and learns how to use the "car phone", should any of Vincent's business associates call. With his brother dropped off, Clay ejects his brother's choice of driving music (Wagner) for his own (Johnny Cash), and heads back towards the house, but his commute is cut short by a phone call...and an explosive car bomb that takes out his left eye and turns him into a barely-breathing lump of hamburger meat.

    Rushed to the hospital, Clay is admitted as patient "Vincent Towers", and begins the slow road to recovery. With his vital signs stable, Clay's broken body undergoes extensive plastic surgery at the hands of Dr. Renee Descartes (Mel Harris), working from photos and video footage of Vincent. There's a bigger problem at hand, though; the accident has left Clay with a case of amnesia. Unable to remember who he is or any details about the bombing, Clay slowly transforms himself into Vincent Towers. Many stories with the theme of "Rags To Riches" work out pretty well, but as Clay inherits Vincent's wealth, he also inherits his problems, like the fact that Vincent is one of the prime suspects in his father's murder, subjecting him to endless hounding by Lieutenant Weismann (David Graf). As Suture spins out its story of paranoia and mistaken identities, one constant question in the hell is anybody confusing Clay, a large Black man, for Vincent, a skinny White man?

    Yup, that's the kicker in Suture, the film written and directed by Scott McGeHee and David Siegel. An entire film based on mistaken identity between two people who could not look more different. Themes of identity and impressions...what we see and how it's subjective...are woven throughout the film, from the initial "striking resemblance", to a police lineup that almost borders on comedic, to a huge Rorschach blot painting found on a wall. How are two people who look nothing alike misidentified by everyone from doctors to cops to close personal friends and family? It's either to their credit or a point of frustration that we're never really let in on that secret.

    What isn't open to interpretation is the fact that McGehee and Siegel have brought us a wickedly stylish film in Suture, one that dazzles and impresses with stark black and white cinematography and beautiful composition that somehow manages to pay tribute to the noire thrillers from the 60's and Japanese cinema that inspired the two writers, but also stand on its own as a bold, artistic statement, especially in the early 90's when it was released. Wagner and Brahms dominate the soundtrack, juxtaposed with the contrasting sounds of Johnny Cash and Tom Jones (two versions of "Ring of Fire" in one film!) adds a surreal element as well, that dances along the line of weirdo comedy, but never succumbs to it. Acting is solid for the most part as well, even though Dennis Haysbert seems to flounder a bit in his initial scenes, but overall, we're entirely convinced that the two leads are interchangeable by every character who interacts with them. And it's pretty great to see David Graf showing off his chops, even if he is back in cop mode.

    The only downside to Suture is that what makes it unique is also its weakness. Many viewers will spend their time asking, "Why?" as they're expected to accept a the number of unanswered oddities in the film as just the way it is, and it spends the majority of the running time putting forth this weirdness and not pushing the story line past that out of a very basic thriller. The limitation on display is that these ideas couldn't possibly exist in a more complex environment with better fleshed-out characters; and once you strip away the "gimmick", all that's left is an undeveloped plot with an empty ending.


    Suture comes to Arrow Blu-Ray in an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 black and white transfer that boasts a brand new 4k restoration from the original camera negative, and it certainly shows. The picture practically pops off of the screen with clarity and sharpness, with an abundance of beautiful, non-scrubbed grain. Dirt and debris are non-existent, and there are no visual issues to speak of. Blacks and contrast are wonderful here, with a full range of semitones that make Suture look like a masterpiece.

    The English LPCM stereo track is perfectly suitable for the film as well, with crisp and clear dialogue, well-balanced with the wonderful (mostly) classical soundtrack, but manages to be dynamic enough to come across as an immersive surround track during certain key moments in the film involving sound effects. Like the video transfer, there are no ugly issues to point out.

    English Subs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are provided as well.

    First up in the extra features is Lacerations: The Making of Suture (32:25) a brand new making-of featurette that brings all of the major players together to talk about the film. Some of the topics covered involve how the filmmakers met, and the short films that they made prior to Suture, as well as the influence of Japanese and American films of the 60's on their work. A number of the actors are also on hand to discuss how they met the Writers/Directors and got involved with the film. A good amount of material is covered in just over a half hour, which is fleshed out more in the commentary.

    Next up are 3 Deleted Scenes that run approximately four minutes in total. These are a little rough-looking, are available with optional filmmaker commentary from Scott McGehee and David Siegel, and were probably dropped for the right reasons.

    Birds Past (27:31) is one of the duo's previous short films, a road movie that pays tribute to Hitchcock's The Birds. It's an interesting watch, but is largely made up of video-quality "man in the street" interviews and is...a little boring. The film is presented in an AR of 1.33:1 and mono PCM.

    A Stills Gallery of 21 photos is up next, as well as two trailers for Suture; the American and European Theatrical Trailers.

    The gem of the extras is a feature-length audio commentary with Siegel and McGehee, more or less moderated by Steven Soderbergh, who became a champion of the film early on and helped them to get financing. Touching on a number of the topics found in the Making Of, Soderbergh keeps the conversation moving (though Siegel and McGehee are plenty chatty) as they get more into the details of how they met and their past short films, and their love of black and white cinematography. The trio also get into some of the tricks that they used to get around their low budget, the cost of licensing music for the soundtrack...and their love of Tom Jones. There aren't many gaps in the conversation, and fans of the film will certainly learn a lot more about it.

    The Final Word:

    If you're a fan of Suture, this one is a no-brainer... the Arrow disc looks and sounds wonderful, and doesn't skimp on the extra features, either.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

      Posting comments is disabled.

    Latest Articles