Mashable, Review of Sew Torn

'Sew Torn' review: 'Pushing Daisies' meets 'Run Lola Run' You won't want to miss this quirky crime comedy. By Kristy Puchko on March 11, 2024 Share on Facebook Eve Connolly dazzles in "Sew Torn." Credit: Macdonald Entertainment Partners & Orisono GmbH Cozy crime is a subgenre in which intriguing tales of murder boast a jaunty aesthetic that's irreverently twee. Think Only Murders in the Building, with its foolhardy amateur sleuths alternately investigating homicide and bickering over their podcast's production. Think Pushing Daisies, a candy-colored mystery series about a lovelorn pie-maker who can literally raise the dead to solve their murders. Think Sew Torn. Written and directed by Freddy Macdonald, this inventive indie crime comedy begins with a drug deal gone violently wrong, before stitching together a multi-thread tale of an unlikely criminal mastermind: a mild-mannered mobile seamstress played by Eve Connolly (Vikings). What's Sew Torn about? Sew Torn is set in a picturesque village high in the mountains, where a pleasant business district boasts quaint shops. One such shop is owned by seamstress Barbara Duggen (Connolly), who offers custom embroideries alongside alterations. Further out, vibrant green pastures dotted with cows stretch to a mighty concrete bridge overlooking a misty valley, reaching even farther to stately homes, where a wealthy bride-to-be (a hilariously harsh Caroline Goodall) is in a snit over a fallen button. In an opening in which Barbara barely speaks, Macdonald swiftly sets up how this young woman has shrunken in the shadow of her late mother, the original mobile seamstress. Trapped by her dedication to carry on her mother's work even as the family business fails, Barbara's fingers twitch at rebellion as she stitches. Her urge for self-sabotage might be ruinous, but at least it could bring something new. By flicking a button into a floor vent, she must flee the growling bride to get another. Barbara's lovely commute back to her village is interrupted when she comes across a pair of bumbling gangsters on a blood-spattered, remote road. A clever lass, Barbara takes one quick look at the scene and assesses from the felled motorcycles, hobbled goons, and scattered bags of white powder that the briefcase skittered down the road is full of cash. "A perfect crime," she says to herself, seeing a solution to her financial woes. She doesn't just pick up the money and run, though. Instead, Barbara uses her handy seamstress kit and its brightly colored threads to create a Rube Goldberg machine that should neatly dispose of the messier bits of this could-be heist. Despite her quick thinking, things don't exactly go to plan. Sew Torn offers a collection of possibilities and quirky characters. In 1998, writer/director Tom Tykwer awed critics with his high-energy crime thriller Run Lola Run, which featured a flame-haired Franka Potente chasing down several different solutions to save her scheming boyfriend from a deadly fate. Sew Torn offers Barbara a similar bargain. When her perfect crime proves deeply flawed (and fatal), rather than leaving her bleeding out in a cornfield, Macdonald thrusts her back onto that road, staring down the coveted briefcase once more. Armed with some hard-won knowledge from her previous encounter with the briefcase, Barbara tries a new plan; she calls the cops. Well, actually, this village is so small that she calls the cop, an elderly woman who is not only the sheriff but also the local notary and the justice of the peace. Far from a hard-ass, K Callan (Poker Face, Knives Out) brings the energy of Coen brothers comedy, as her character can suss out bullshit with ease yet exudes patience and empathy. She'll collar all three of these crooks with the sternness of a school marm teaching a lesson. Here and throughout the other threads, Barbara's choices knit in a reluctant gangster (Calum Worthy), a frantic thug (Thomas Douglas), a chatty embroidery enthusiast (Ron Cook), and a merciless kingpin (John Lynch). Each gets their moment to shine via Sew Torn's curious narrative structure. Some imbrue menace, while others give off agony, and still others a boisterous warmth. Yet all would be for naught if Connolly weren't crushing the lead role. Eve Connolly proves she's a captivating leading lady in Sew Torn. While this crime comedy can get quite silly with its violent slapstick, thread-centric machinations, and kooky criminals, Barbara is the straight man surrounded by stooges. Her expression is often drawn, her eyes spiked with calculation. While other characters bloviate about their lives, Barbara is a much more internal character, her quietness making her seem all the more an outsider in her hometown. But Connolly makes sure Barbara never feels flat or passive. Voiceovers framing the beginning and the end give audiences a peek into Barbara's thinking, but mostly we rely on Connolly's sharp facial expression and precise physicality for insight. All of this interiority makes a sharp contrast in the third thread of the film all the more exciting. In this sequence, Barbara's only path to survival is to throw herself into a dance number. It is explosive and inexplicable. Her limbs fling about madly while her face is sharply focused. This is not a celebration; it is a scheme tied to strings. And of all the incredible things she pulls off with thread, it's the most climactic and wickedly fun. Macdonald enhances the fantastical possibilities of this crime-ridden tale with color, using vivid hues but a medium contrast. There's grays within these tones, perhaps reflecting Barbara's boredom with these surroundings despite their beauty. Yet there's no ignoring the boldness of things like the dazzling blue of her eyes, the harsh red of blood, and the bright yellow thread wrapped around the giant bobbin at the back of her teal Volkswagen bug (a cutesy signifier of her trade). Notably, each color is reflected in literal threads that prove crucial to Barbara's plans. Each burst of color speaks to Barbara's possibilities for more than mending. She can remake the world around her or tear it to shreds. But what to do with that knowledge? Thanks to a crackling cast, a clever color scheme, and a plotline that's uniquely knotty, Macdonald makes Sew Torn a sensational experience. It has the cheeky fun of a top-notch crime comedy without losing the edge of life-or-death stakes. With a series of possibilities being unspooled, the movie is delightfully unpredictable. Its leading lady lands each beat, be it one of harrumphing frustration, a outrageous dance, or a dangerous hope. And in the end, it leaves its audience dizzy but satisfied by its wild spins. Sew Torn was reviewed out of its World Premiere at SXSW 2024. Topics Film SXSW Kristy Puchko Kristy Puchko is the Film Editor at Mashable. Based in New York City, she's an established film critic and entertainment reporter, who has traveled the world on assignment, covered a variety of film festivals, co-hosted movie-focused podcasts, interviewed a wide array of performers and filmmakers, and had her work published on, Vanity Fair, and The Guardian. A member of the Critics Choice Association and GALECA as well as a Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Kristy's primary focus is movies. However, she's also been known to gush over television, podcasts, and board games. You can follow her on Twitter. Recommended For You Grab the Echo Show 8 for under $90 Add the convenience of an 8-inch touchscreen to your life. 02/27/2024

Kristin Puchko


“Choices, choices…,” says the narrator, a young seamstress, in this strange and striking debut from Freddy Macdonald. A neo-noir in the early Coens tradition, Sew Torn also features a bold tri-part structure in which the heroine, Barbara (Eve Connolly) — like Lola before her in Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run — gets three standalone chances to pursue a different destiny after stumbling on the bloody aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong on a quiet country road. It begins with image of a reel of red cotton, a briefcase and a dead body. This is Barbara, who wonders what we’ll make of her story (“Perhaps you’d relate to my isolation, my need. Or perhaps you’d see my lack of morality”). Macdonald’s film then loops back to explain who Barbara got here, a tale of chance and coincidence that reshuffles its characters in a way that always surprises, ultimately creating a tight, genuine ensemble out of its seemingly random supporting cast. When we meet her, Barbara is still recovering from the death of her mother, who has left her in charge of the family business, a small-town haberdashery called Duggan’s. Her mother’s specialty was a unique combination of sound and needlepoint, which is why she proudly called her little shop “Home of the Talking Portraits.” The shop clearly is going out of business, but, even with no work to do, Barbara has forgotten about her only appointment for the day: a fitting with customer Grace Vessier (Caroline Goodall), who is about to get married for the third time — and “everything needs to be perfect.” The route to Grace’s house is through a stunning Alpine valley; for reasons never explained, the film takes place in Switzerland, even though the characters speak English and pay each other in francs, not euros. And when Barbara arrives, Grace is withering about Barbara’s flakiness, sniffing, “At least your mother was mildly reliable, not running her business into the ground.” Matters come to a head when a button falls off Grace’s dress, and Barbara, in a sulk, flicks it down an air vent. Grace sends her home to get a replacement, a fateful moment that will change Barbara’s life forever. Turning left out of Grace’s road she finds two badly wounded bikers, a briefcase, two guns and bags of a suspicious white powder strewn across the asphalt. Pulling her “mobile seamstress” car — easily identifiable by the huge promotional cotton reel mounted on the back — Barbara begins to mull over the alternatives: “Perfect crime… Call the police… Drive away.” To start with, she chooses the first option, putting her skills with a needle and thread to ingenious use and then driving off with the briefcase, which presumably is stuffed with cash. To avoid spoilers, suffice to say it doesn’t quite go quite like that; indeed, the charm of Sew Torn is how it takes a well-worn genre narrative and disrupts it with so many quirks and eccentricities that it takes on an identity all of its own. As Barbara proceeds to live out every possibility of the scenario, the film’s small, core cast come into sharper focus; as well as Barbara and Grace, there’s Mrs. Engel (Knives Out’s Greatnana Wanetta), the area’s cop and wedding notary; Beck (Thomas Douglas), the drug mule; Josh (Calum Worthy), the crime boss’ reluctant son; and Hudson Armitage (John Lynch), the scowling villain of the peace who cracks the same unfunny joke in every iteration of the story. Its oddness certainly will be frustrating to those who like their crime hardboiled, but admirers of The Kid Detective and all of Rian Johnson’s work up to and including Poker Face will find plenty to enjoy. It’s also a great vehicle for Connolly, who handles Barbara’s self-sabotaging vulnerability with a deceptive level of steeliness and the gravitas of a younger Claire Danes. Most of all, though, it’s a great discovery, the kind of film festivals were made for and streamers should fill their boots with, as counterprogramming to the big stuff. It will be fascinating to see where destiny takes Freddy Macdonald next.

Damon Wise

Luzerner Zeitung

Lucerne newspaper Inspiring premiere of "The Amokrunner". The ensemble of the Lucerne Theater vividly illustrates the lush landscape of human emotions with all their fluctuations. This is mainly thanks to the actor Thomas Douglas: he seems to be able to show every facet of the inner life and ensures that the passion is transferred to the audience. He is flanked by the actress Tini Prüfert and the musician Mario Marchisella, who also charges the emotions with his sounds. The stage in the basement proves to be ideal for this production. Spatially cramped as on the ocean liner, we listen to what the suffering doctor has to tell us. You go on a journey and when you leave this theater ship you are touched by the intimacy of the emotional encounter and impressed by the acting performance of the ensemble. "The Amok Runner" is a masterful success and makes you want to go see the play a second time. Further performances until February 13, 2022, Emilia Sulek

Emilia Sulek

Balticsea Paper

Thomas Douglas, here in front of the "Pommernhus", plays Schwenkers, the gallery owner. Was it the gallery owner? For it is in the gallery that chief inspector Rainer Witt (played by Till Firit) and the Greifswald art dealer Schwenkers (Thomas Douglas) first meet. The question is: Does the gallery owner have something to do with the death of the TV presenter? Ex-prosecutor Karin Lossow (Katrin Sass) also wants to find out what really happened and takes Witt's daughter Merle (Elsa Krieger) with her as she makes her way to the gallery. Filming took place in the Hanseatic city over several days. This did not go unnoticed. On this morning, passers-by stop every now and then to watch the filming in front of the gallery. Some of the windows of the surrounding residential buildings also open. But they don't stay open for long. The temperature is a frosty four degrees. There is not much time for the actors to look around Greifswald after filming. For Thomas Douglas, who embodies the gallery owner from Greifswald, the last visit to the Hanseatic city was also a while ago. A good 20 years, to be precise. "That's when everything still looked different here. The city has become very beautiful and has developed a lot," is the verdict of the actor, who was born in Great Britain and grew up in Munich from the age of seven. Stepping into the role of a gallery owner is no problem for Douglas: "I'm a bit of an art buff myself and played for a long time at the Theater Basel, where the Art Basel (international art fair, editor's note) is very present. That's where I got a good impression of gallery owners." Schwenkers, the gallery owner he now plays, is different. "He doesn't take the truth too seriously and is also more self-absorbed," is how the actor describes his role.

Christin Lachmann

Orpheus - Opera - Magazine

Above all, the stagecraft of the two outstanding leading actors, the actor Thomas Douglas (King Oedipus) and the countertenor Michael Taylor (Theresa's seer) fascinate. With unflagging intensity in language and acting, Douglas drives his Oedipus towards collapse in the face of the devastating truth, sometimes with explosive drama.

Claus-Ulrich Heinke

Orpheus Descending - NZZ

Thomas Douglas as Val is not the irresistable beau, which one might expect. But he gives the character an agile presence, which moves seamlessly between nonchalances, gentleness and brave decisiveness. Val fills the room without exageration, but with feeling in every fibre. The laconic of Jim Jarmush, the desire of Wong Kar-Wei: it is pure pleasure to watch him.

Alfred Schlienger

Zu Zweit - NZZ

Thomas Douglas as Andreas is a sensitive and subtile male character - a combination not often encountered in the German film scene.

Bettina Spörri

Zu Zweit - Laudatio, Züricher Filmpreis

„Zu Zweit“ captivates through the thrill of risk, the unexpected development of the plot and the acting prescence of Linda Olanski and Thomas Douglas: a powerful image of real life.

Corine Mauch

Zu Zweit - Tagesanzeiger Zürich

Many of the scenes were clearly developed during filming, which gives the film a certain spontaneity. Not least thanks to good actors. Thomas Douglas portrays the emotionally endangered, helpless Andreas perfectly / wonderfully. A pleasure to watch.

Bruno Rauch

Zu Zweit - SRF

The fact, that Barabar Kulcsar, the director, lets the actors improvise, results in realistic and spontaneous dialogues. The ensemble is convincing in the art of improvisation, in particular the two leads Linda Olsansky and Thomas Douglas.

Zu Zweit

Homepage and Trailer

Plötzlich Deutsch

After a slap on the head, a German-hostile Swiss fireman speaks perfect Berlin dialect. He has foreign language accent syndrome. A daring comedy by director Robert Ralston.



Die Schwarze Spinne - zentralplus online

The actors sang, shouted and groaned the texts, which deviated greatly from the original, in grusical style. The director Barbara-David Brüesch and the musical director Knut Jensen chiseled a very unique, often extremely humorous language on the characters. The mischievous one Lord Stoffeln (Thomas Douglas), who has something of the "Red Queen" from "Alice in Wonderland", sings, for example: "The castle is ready, the castle is nice, but it is hot".

Daniela Herzog

Die Tonhalle - nmz

The ironically witty Thomas Douglas moderates the concert, welcomes the extraordinary capacity of his establishment or turns the audience into a donkey by advising the use of the 'listening funnel' 'Tiny concert house' takes place, the concert has to assert itself increasingly against external sound events: a tourist group, loud applause from the big house, construction site noise or the cooing of pigeons - with which Häusermann play a loving game with his being on just five controls and glow drives.

Anna Schürmer