Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on September 9th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, April 24th 2010
Director: Robert Heath
Writer: Barrie Keeffe
Cast: Ralph Brown, Clint Dyer, Rafe Spall, Anjela Lauren Smith.
DVD released: September 6th, 2010
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
DVD Release: 4 Digital Media
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99
UK election night 1979; Margaret Thatcher is about to come into power. Young black man Delroy (Clint Dyer) has been pulled into the cop shop on SUS (aka suspect under suspicion; the ‘stop and search’ law). But what he doesn’t know is that his wife is dead and the coppers on duty, officers Karn (Ralph Brown) and Wilby (Rafe Spall) racist to the core, suspect Delroy of the murder. High on the prospect of a Conservative Party victory and an end to what they consider to be a soft government, weak on crime, they intend to get a quick confession from their suspect and head home to watch the election unfold on TV but it soon becomes apparent that Delroy isn’t going to crack quickly or easily. The night, it seems, has just begun…….
Written by Barrie Keeffe; an award-winning playwright probably best known for the excellent classic Brit-flick The Long Good Friday. SUS was written as a play in the late 70’s and it has been performed regularly ever since. This movie adaptation was directed by relative newcomer Robert Heath who only has couple of shorts and a UK comedy from 2005, Out On A Limb, to his credit.
Released in theaters to coincide with the current UK general election this is a film with something important to say about the world we live in today via a grim look at the world that was. Peering at the past through rose-tinted glasses at the way the old bill used to operate in the likes of recent TV success’ like Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes we might be forgiven for forgetting the sheer nastiness that was once allowed to take place in an interrogation room. The title of the film is a reference to the antiquated law from the early 19th century that gave the police the authority to stop and search any person on suspicion alone which was resurrected in the 70’s and abused via prejudice and racial stereotyping to chilling effect.
Filmed in only ten days the production nevertheless has a highly polished quality. The entire film takes place in a claustrophobic interrogation room but cinematographer Jono Smith does an excellent job of giving the room depth and atmosphere – to his credit the film is never visually uninteresting despite it’s inherent cramped, stage-like setting. Besides whatever this story may lack in cinematic flare it more than makes up for in raw emotion. Clint Dyer’s portrayal of Delroy is nothing less than a tour-de-force performance as he takes the character from cocky indignation through soul destroying grief and on to profound restrained blazing anger. Dyer had apparently played the part 10 years previously on the stage and it was his fervor to get the play filmed that united the production. This is of course a three hander, only a trio of characters appear on screen and a weak link in the chain could derail such a project. Luckily enough Ralph Brown as officer Karn gives an excellent chilling performance; spouting absurdities with barely restrained malice and taking an almost gleeful perverse joy in his mind-fucking of Delroy. Rafe Spall as officer Wilby also gives an exceptional performance as a near psychotic copper skating so close to the edge that he leaves us in doubt as to just how unbalanced Wilby really is and how much of an act he puts on to intimidate suspects, especially as his tactics become more physically violent.
A triumph of Keeffe’s blistering bare-knuckle writing combined with the blood, sweat and tears of a top-notch cast make this highly recommended viewing, especially timely in today’s post 9/11 world in which the last decade saw the resurgence of SUS laws in the UK in the guise of section 44 and the like!
2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is excellent – crisp, clear image with excellent detail, contrast and solid blacks. There are two English audio tracks available; Stereo and 5.1 both feature clean and clear dialog and there is little real difference between them given this is a dialog heavy movie with an understated score.
A Deleted Scene – Running around 5 minutes and introduced via audio commentary by director Robert Heath this is an early scene in which the coppers taunt Delroy with lewd questions about his fidelity to his wife. Apparently excised in part because of the rude comments made about a couple of famous 70’s female newsreaders that even here have been dubbed out of the audio to avoid offense – I’m pretty sure Delroy’s saying Angela Rippon, couldn’t make out the other one!
Behind The Scenes: Making Of SUS – Clocking in at 12 minutes this a talking heads featurette with fairly interesting interviews with writer Barrie Keeffe, Clint Dyer and Ralph Brown – they all discuss how they came to the project and the huge enjoyment they had working on it.
Ice Cool Reception – A 14 minute short film made in 2001. The first actor/director collaboration between Clint Dyer and Robert Heath. It’s a dark comedy highlighting the pitfalls of mental health institutions. It was selected for the First Film Foundation’s prestigious New Directions scheme in 2002 where it was screened to industry key players in New York and L.A.
Plus an original theatrical trailer.