“Sew Torn” is one of those films that are hard to talk about without spoiling at least a bit of its narrative. It is a heavily plot-dependent film that tries to heighten the drama and build bouts of suspense throughout its duration. Freddy Macdonald’s direction is clearly focused on milking the most out of its simplest moments and being a visceral exploration of our choices and their consequences. Unfortunately, the film’s ideas are not developed sufficiently to create the intended impact. As the film progresses, it feels like a needlessly stretched affair that is too much in love with its central thought.

“Sew Torn” follows a seamstress, Barbara Duggen (played by Eve Connolly), who gets caught up in a situation beyond her control. As a viewer, you sense a forced pun where this protagonist ‘gets tangled in her own thread’! On the day in question, Barbara leaves her thread shop for her new & only gig. Her late mother wanted her to continue this business after her death. Through regurgitated voice-overs, it tries to make us accept the pressure of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. This narrative device is used without the necessary restraint.

Anyhow, Barbara goes to meet Grace Vessler (played by Caroline Goodall), who is getting married for the third time. Grace asks Barbara to work on her dress, knowing well that she hardly gets any work otherwise. Grace uses it as a way to justify her heightened expectations. She also makes Barbara feel bad about the bleak state of her business, which she needs to sell sooner rather than later.

While tending to Grace’s cheeky demands, Barbara remains mostly silent and speaks only when absolutely required. We see her as this timid and probably insecure woman, bogged down by the realization of her failing life. Something happens during this job, which makes Barbara immediately leave Grace’s house. While struggling with her ennui, this young seamstress drives under constant pressure. On one side, she has to finish her work as required, while on the other side, she wants to break free from this life.

Sew Torn (2024) ‘SXSW’ Movie Review
A still from “Sew Torn” (2024)

Is she working at the shop just because her mother expected her to do so? Or is she working out of her genuine interest? Does she have any other choice? Is she going to be stuck in this monotonous life until the day she dies? She actively grapples with these thoughts and seems to have reached a threshold. Accidentally, she passes by a scene of an accident. It looks like a drug deal gone bad – which left two people wounded and lying on the road. In this situation, what should she do? Should she leave the crime scene or call the police?  Then, should she leave to do her job or stay back until the cops arrive? But more importantly, what if she had not messed up her job in the first place?

“Sew Torn” explores all these possibilities through an escalated game of cat and mouse. During this segment, Barbara’s choices drastically change the outcomes in her life. Through this game of hypotheticals, the film hopes to explore moral greys while following the connection between decisions and consequences. At most times, “Sew Torn” seems confused about whether it wants to be a bonkers suspense thriller or a brooding, cerebral drama. It introduces some moments that seem implausible even in its considerably out-there set-up. This is because many of these scenes seem needlessly attention-seeking – either with a heightened drama or a situation-gone-bad scenario. They never feel as organic as they do in a film like Damián Szifron’s “Wild Tales.” So, it fails to be a visceral thriller.

Besides, “Sew Torn” tries to make us invest emotionally while making us think about its themes. So, it builds multiple moments of suspense that seem forcefully fit in some of its situations – be it actions or reactions. The bad acting choices by a majority of the cast adds on to the film’s overall mediocrity. Thematically, the film feels like a pile of mess where the only point it ends up making is – ‘You see how absurd our lives are?’ To reach its individual conclusions, the film feels dragging even in its barely 90-minute runtime. So, it becomes a surprisingly bland thriller despite being about life-altering choices.

Sew Torn premiered at the 2024 SXSW Film Festival.

Sew Torn (2024) Movie Links: IMDb
The Cast of Sew Torn (2024) Movie: Eve Connolly, Calum Worthy, K Callan, John Lynch, Ron Cook, Thomas Douglas, Caroline Goodall, Werner Biermeier, Veronika Herren-Wenger, Petra Wright

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