Faults – An impressive directorial debut with outstanding performances
Written and directed by: Riley Stearns
Ansle (Orser) is a shell of his former self. Having once attained a decent amount of money and fame, due to a book and subsequent tv show centered on deprogramming family’s loved ones who had joined cults, he has been relegated to giving sparsely attended seminars in hotel conference rooms. The first scenario we see him in is him attempting, pathetically, to reuse a meal voucher at the restaurant of the hotel he is staying in. It is this opening that not only makes the viewer want to know more about Ansel, but also shines a light on just how low he has sunk and how little dignity he has left.
Things get even worse for Ansel when his manager (Gries), who he owes money for funding his new self-published book, sends his enforcer Mick (Reddick) to collect the cash by any means necessary. Depressed and broke, Ansel is on the brink of giving up completely (even taking a failed stab at suicide). That is until he is approached by a mother (Grant) and father (Ellis) who are worried sick about their daughter Claire (Winstead), and will give anything (including the money Ansel desperately needs) to get her back from the group she has joined called “Faults”.
With the help of some hired muscle, Ansel takes Claire to a hotel to spend five days deprogramming her. The ensuing game of cat and mouse between Ansle and Claire is a thing of beauty. Orser and Winstead are both incredible to watch, as the back and forth of psychological dialogue builds up. Ultimately, things begin to spiral out of Ansel’s control, and as stranger and stranger things start happening he loses not only his self-identity but his grip on reality.
This film was a hugely pleasant surprise for me. I have always adored Mary Elizabeth Winstead and considered her to be an underrated actress, but she really blew me away with this role. Just watching the tense power struggle between Claire and Orser’s Ansel was enough for me to give “Faults” high marks. Just superb acting all the way around, coupled with some claustrophobia-inducing cinematography. Director Stearns definitely shows his capability here, and announces to the film world that he is here to stay. The film is perfectly paced, building tension slowly and giving the viewer a never-ending sense that things are just not right. It was quite remarkable to watch. I can’t wait to see what Stearns does next!