Originally released in 1993 Suture is a film exploring the conceit of identity, specifically between a pair of nearly identical brothers (portrayed by the Caucasian Michael Harris and African American Dennis Haysbert) who, despite clearly being about as identical as a pineapple and a watermelon, are in Suture, for practicalities sake, identical twins.
Having met at the funeral of their father Vincent invites his long lost brother Clay to his house under the guise of getting to know each other better. Unbeknownst to Clay his brother plans to murder him and is hoping the police will believe Clay’s body is his own so he can flee the country as he is under suspicion for the murder of their father. Clay survives the attempt on his life but loses his memories, whilst those around him believe he is Vincent and try to help him recollect who he is.
Suture is built around an interesting premise of what constitutes a person’s identity, how memories and dreams define our personality and how others around us perceive us to be. Clay’s conversations with a psychiatrist (Sab Shimono) in which he recounts his dreams are a curious attempt to explore the realm of the subconscious within are psychology, expressing that if we lose are conscious memories our subconscious always remains intact and will initiate the motivations of our true self. On the surface the casting of two such different looking men as brothers is a rather animated expression of exploring their differing identities but the performance of Haysbert delves into the psychological struggle of Clay in attempting to separate his own subconscious memories from Vincent Towers, the man all those around him contend him to be. Sadly Suture’s plot is slow and does little with the characters than to meander from repetitive conversation to repetitive conversation. Beyond the dreams and Haysbert’s portrayal we’re left with a dramatic void at times as the action continually stalls. The movie is also bookended by narration from Shimono’s character discussing what identity means, it’s forcefully redundant and lessens the impact of the otherwise fulfilling finale. Rather than being left to surmise the events of the film ourselves we are informed through narration what we should think about the narrative, thereby undercutting the movies thematic plot. Greg Gardiner’s cinematography keeps the movie from getting too stale or plodding and it’s not surprising to see that in the twenty odd years since Suture he has worked on dozens of high profile films following his fine work here. The decision to film in black and white gives Suture a sapped, ambiguous quality, as if we are spectating upon faint memories, and it enhances the action splendidly.
Suture presents Dennis Haysbert in one of his finest roles and he is supported ably by some fine work by the rest of the ensemble. Scott Mcgehee and David Siegel have clearly put a lot of love and hard work into making the film and their effort is not in vain as Suture explores some thought-provoking concepts. However the movie’s plot does strain following a well-paced first act and what is a rather short feature film does start to drag from the midway point until the finale. Despite these issues Suture satisfies and provokes a strong internal discussion that makes the film more than worthy enough to be remembered.
Dir: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Scr: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Cast: Dennis Haysbert, Michael Harris, Sab Shimono, Mel Harris, Dina Merrill, David Graf
Prd: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
DOP: Greg Gardiner
Music: Cary Berger
Runtime: 96 minutes
Suture is out on DVD and Blu-ray from July 4th