Archives / 1995 Sundance Film Festival

The Usual Suspects

Director: Bryan Singer

Screenwriters: Christopher McQuarrie

Institute History

Description

Bryan Singer returns to the Sundance Film Festival with a dynamic and intense mystery thriller, featuring a knockout cast and loaded with subtle twists and unique touches that are as intriguing as they are entertaining. The cowinner of the Grand Jury prize in 1992 with Public Access, Singer again demonstrates his ability to interweave a complicated narrative with a striking visual style.

When New York police detectives set out to solve the recent hijacking of a truck loaded with gun parts by rounding up five of the East Coast criminal community’s most prominent thieves, they unintentionally create the opportunity for the group to join forces. Dean Keaton (played by Gabriel Byrne), an ex-cop turned smuggler, whose exploits have earned him the special wrath and attention of the Customs Department, is the leader of the group. Other members of the gang are portrayed by Stephen Baldwin, Benecio Del Toro, and Kevin Pollak, and Kevin Spacey has the pivotal role of Roger “Verbal” Kint. What at first glance appears to be a straightforward caper film becomes increasingly byzantine, eventually leading to an inventive and surprising conclusion.

The excellent cast, including Suzy Amis, Chazz Palminteri and Pete Postlethwaite in supporting roles, makes this cat and mouse game thoroughly engaging and fun. And Singer’s attention to atmosphere, including nuances of mise-en-scène and characters that stray from the norm, sets a tone that is sexy and suspenseful. The Usual Suspects is sure to please anyone who enjoys style and slick storytelling.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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