- March 6, 2015
- Riley Stearns
- Leland Orser
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Chris Ellis
- Beth Grant
- Jon Gries
- Lance Reddick
- Leonard Earl Howze
- Nicholas Tucci
Movie: a recording of moving images that tells a story. Simple.
Filmmaker Riley Stearns has crafted a wonderful and simple debut movie about a handful of people coming together to repair their ‘Faults’. Don’t come into this 2014 indie with any expectations of outcome, because you’d be wrong.
Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) is a loser. The opening scene shows him deliberately and unashamedly scamming a meal from a restaurant. Only to then steal towels, batteries and any thing else not nailed down in his recently evicted from hotel room.
He’s spent a life striving to save people from cults, in educating people about the devastating impact of mind-control. It’s left him hollowed out, penniless, and alone. A bitter, soulless existence spent on a never-ending “book tour” from one crappy motel seminar to the next.
When the parents of Claire show up wanting Ansel to rescue their daughter from a cult he isn’t interested, “I don’t give a sh*t.” But, he owes his manager Terry (Jon Gries) $20 grand and a thug named Mick (Lance Reddick) comes collecting.
So Ansel works out a deal, he’ll “rescue” and de-program Claire, but it’s going to cost them–about $20 grand +expenses;) Bringing in a couple of hired guns, Ansel kidnaps Claire and brings her to an out-of-the-way motel for safe-keeping.
Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), it turns out, has come under the influence of the previously unknown to Ansel cult “Faults”. Under their influence she sees herself advancing “levels” of existence as she gains self-awareness and removes past-life obstacles from her path. Even though she resists the kidnapping at first, she agrees to say for five days and let Ansel do what may. It is simply another step on her ladder towards self-discovery and getting to the next level.
You think you know where this film is going. I mean you’ve probably seen this type of film many times before. But Stearns keeps things fresh, ensuring you never know what is actually coming next. And that ending… Well, if you saw the wonderful ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ you know the power of a true surprise ending.
We are not meant to like the self-pitying, weaselly Ansel. Yet, we can’t help but feel a little for the guy. He’s not an evil man. You’ll rarely meet a bigger screw up of a human being than in Ansel Roth. And, once he begins Claire’s deprogramming we see Ansel step it up and start to actually “give a sh*t” about this other lost soul.
Leland Orser has been around a good while, mostly playing disenfranchised and odd-ball characters (remember him in ‘Se7en’?). He is amazing here. A range of borderline, antisocial-ish emotions. Evoking disgust, pity, and heroics–usually at the same time. Blending riotously funny and pathetically tragic together to really sell us on this character and story.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as “Claire” gets less to work with. A solid performance, but Claire is damaged and detached so the range of emotion portrayed is somewhat limited. However, her transformation during the “de-programming” is subtle and powerful. Loved the shifting dynamics between Ansel and Claire.
With excellent support from Lance Reddick (in an all too brief appearance), Orser’s fellow ‘Taken’ buddy Jon Gries, and Beth Grant and Chris Ellis as Claire’s parents. A tightly focused, perfectly tuned cast.
The direction is unflashy, but well-done. The production values are solid with nicely paced editing and an edgy, unnerving musical score.
I can’t elaborate too much on plot as one must watch with virginal eyes. So I’ll wrap things up. ‘Faults’ is smart, funny, and creepy. The low-key style and dynamic performances keep us glued the entire 90 minutes. Recommended.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 93 minutes