In the film Faults, called by Simon Abrams (rogerebert.com) a “black-comedy/thriller,” a religious cult has taken over the life of a young woman, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to get her back, her parents hire a mind control expert, Ansel Roth (Leland Orser). After Ansel manages to free her, he takes Claire to a motel room for the five-day deprogramming.
The movie was written/directed by Riley Stearns, who also happens to be married to actress Winstead. Tomorrow it comes out on DVD, following a limited theater run.
Consider yourself warned about the trailer—definitely gives off a creepy and violent vibe:
Who is this guy exactly? Andy Webster, New York Times: “Ansel has his own baggage: Once a renowned expert in the vein of the cult authority Rick Alan Ross, he mourns his failed marriage, owes money to a creditor and unsuccessfully hawks his latest book at second-rate venues. Between the intimidating posturing of Claire’s father (Chris Ellis) and the alternately hysterical, vulnerable and assertive Claire, he finds his mettle challenged to the limit.”
David Ehrlich: “If he weren’t a published expert at talking people out of cults, Ansel…would be an obvious candidate for joining one…Ansel may not be a con man—Orser’s indelible turn elevates the character’s desperation into its own sad brand of sincerity—but Faults nevertheless delights in questioning the value of his product.”
Mike D’Angelo, AV Club: “…Ansel reveals himself to be genuinely expert at what he does, despite his general buffoonery, while Claire proves a remarkably cagey adversary. Orser and Winstead make a splendid duo, skillfully playing off each other’s rhythm: he quietly insistent with bursts of anxiety, she maddeningly serene with episodes of self-doubt. Every scene in which they’re alone together (which is a good chunk of the movie) crackles with electricity.”
Simon Abrams, rogerebert.com: “…(O)ver the course of five days, Ansel shows Claire that she doesn’t need any one thing to define her. She is more than her religion, her clothing, her family, etc.The freedom that comes with that knowledge is both liberating and terrifying.”
Andy Webster, New York Times: “While ‘Faults’ glances at the narcissism of cult leaders, its most penetrating investigation is into the root emptiness within disciples, the desperate hunger to relinquish personal initiative. And yet no film has fully charted the self-abnegation found in, say, the harrowing ‘exit statements’ of the Heaven’s Gate members, a void too vast and perhaps too terrifying to measure.”
Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times: “The wan drama is enlivened by bursts of black comedy, some bits more effective than others, and though it ultimately disappoints, there’s promise in the understated creepiness of Riley Stearns’ debut feature.”
John Darnielle, Slate: “It seems a little far-fetched, and then it doesn’t, and then it really does, but by the time you get there you won’t care anymore. Its final reveal is the sort of beautiful Twilight Zone fillip you see coming only about 10 seconds before it arrives, and I recommend seeing the movie without reading anything further about it: The payoff is that good…”