1994, NR, 92 min. Directed by Dominique Deruddere. Starring Pete Postlethwaite, Geraldine Pailhas, Antonie Kamerling.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 6, 1996
Suite 16 starts off promisingly. A young, handsome male hustler named Chris (Kamerling) seduces older women on the French Riviera and then robs them when they're most vulnerable. When his latest score unexpectedly fights back, things turn ugly and blood is shed, forcing the injured Chris to flee. Finding his escape from the hotel blocked for various reasons, Chris slips into the open door of Suite 16, the residential quarters of Glover (Postlethwaite), a wealthy, middle-aged, wheelchair-bound, former playboy. An odd magnetism immediately connects the two men, each of whom possesses what the other one covets. Seducing Chris by providing him with drugs, prostitutes, and promises of financial security, Glover has the young man enact all his frustrated sexual fantasies which culminate with the proxy murder of a woman. The murder goes awry but Glover becomes so intrigued by the woman that he has the hotel's desk clerk, who is his mysterious henchman, bring her to the suite where she, too, makes herself at home and displaces Chris. Chris' passivity and dispassion now begin to be replaced with anger, which, curiously, is precisely what Glover wants. The problem with Suite 16 is that we really have no idea why these characters are behaving the way they do, and, moreover, we don't care. No motivational history is brought to bear on the perverse psychological events we witness. Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects) brings some intensity to his portrayal, though he has little material to go on. Dutch actor Kamerling is great to look at, though weak in the acting department. In this essentially two-man drama set in close quarters, there's simply not enough here to hold our attention. And plentiful though the sex scenes (some of them rough and coarse, with one obligatory sodomy) may be, they are devoid of eroticism and voyeuristic pleasure. In fact, the most interesting aspect of Suite 16 may be the elegant Art Deco decor that furnishes the apartment. Flemish director Deruddere has shown more sensitivity and insight in his previous two features -- Love Is a Dog from Hell based on Charles Bukowski stories, and Wait Until Spring Bandini starring Faye Dunaway and Joe Mantegna. Suite 16, however, is one that got away.