Sew Torn // SXSW 2024 Review

It is almost always the quiet and unassuming movies that surprise me at a festival. So, it makes sense that Sew Torn is possibly the most equally delightful and unique movie in this year’s SXSW line-up. For those unfamiliar with the premise, the feature is based on the 2019 short film by writer and director Freddy Macdonald. Luckily, Macdonald was allowed to expand on the popular 6-minute movie. It seems there was a lot more to play with in the world of this mysterious seamstress. 

Barbara Duggen is a mobile seamstress struggling to keep her fabric shop open. While heading back to the shop to get a replacement button for a Bridezilla her life changes. She stumbles upon a curious incident that forces her to choose between three options. She can commit the perfect crime, call the police, or drive away. Sew Torn takes us down all three paths, so we can see that there are so many bad outcomes. However, there is also a bit of heart and humor as Barbara plays out each scenario. 

Eye Of A Needle

Eve Connolly plays Barbara, and unlike the short the movie is based on, she has dialogue. While she’s still a pretty quiet character who seemingly prefers to think things through over being quippy, we get to know her a bit more. We get to understand why this store matters to her and know she’s recently lost a parent. More importantly, we relate to her hesitation to leave the money at the scene of the crime she has driven past. One of my favorite things about Barbara is that she’s an ordinary woman who has come across a bizarre incident. That’s highly relatable and more interesting than superheroes with impressive moral codes who have all the correct answers. It is her humanity that makes you suspend your disbelief at what she can do with a couple spools of thread and go with her on this butterfly-effect adventure.

Barbara’s mind is a magnificent thing. It evaluates each situation and then brings it back to how her skillset can help her reach her objective. Whether that’s escaping captors, committing the perfect crime, or boobytrapping her own store. This allows each version of events to spin its heart out as the movie casts a magical web on viewers. I’m not going to lie, for most of the run time, I wasn’t sure if I liked this movie or was just fascinated by it. On this side of the credits, I realize it was both and feel it’s a great palate cleanser for those who want a little whimsy in our thrillers.

Arts, Crafts, and Crimes

This charming and unassuming film gives big Fargo energy. It is also not afraid to even go as far as killing its protagonist in some outcomes. However, it never stops marching to the beat of its own distinct drummer. This results in an unusual viewing experience that plants this comedic thriller on the list of most creative movies you’ll see this year. I found myself leaning forward each time the seamstress took down a bad guy with nothing but her cute little sewing kit. I also found myself cherishing the pieces of character development we get when we return to the scene of the crime to pick a different thread to follow. When you think it’s over, the movie treats the audience to one more “what if”. It serves as proof that even at feature length, it’s hard to get sick of this unusual world. The film is like a choose-your-own-adventure with the highest stakes. I feel this death-filled kaleidoscope of a story is worth a couple of viewings. I cannot wait to see how audiences respond whenever Sew Torn finds a distributor.