Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars
A mysterious black man is stopped by the local lawman. His hands dirty, he has no identification and tells the deputy that he’s out “looking at some property.” The man is taken into custody and questioned about a recent bank robbery. “Why are you asking me,” he asks. “I’m not the only black man in this town.” Oops.
A smartly written thriller full of fine performances, “The Suspect” reveals itself, though a series of flashbacks, to be much more than your standard bank robbery yarn. Pitting the accused title character (Phifer) against the judgmental town sheriff(Sadler), the two engage in a battle of wits that, if you’re not paying attention, will leave you wondering what you missed.
This is truly the time of new filmmakers planting their flags. I was amazed to learn that this is writer/director Stuart Connelly’s first feature film. His script continues to add layers to the story as the film progresses and his work behind the camera shows a keen knack for keeping the story moving without giving away too much. Truly one of the most impressive debuts I’ve seen in a long time.
On screen, both Phifer and Sadler shine. I’m a huge fan of Sadler’s and I always welcome the chance to see him on-screen. Phifer matches him line for line, the two of them “dancing” with each other, trying to see who will blink first. Supporting work by Derek Roche’ as Sadler’s deputy and Sterling K. Brown as “the other Suspect” also stand out.