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Being that I dig Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an actress and that I am a huge admirer of Leland Orser’s work (he betters everything that he’s in) I was highly anticipating the release of Riley Stearns FAULTS after its positive Festival run. I waited, waited and waited for it to come out in my parts… no dice! So I finally got around to looking around online and found it on Amazon On Demand (see it here). I guess I sneezed, it got the VOD treatment and I never got the memo. Well now that I saw it, was it worth the wait? Read on!
There was a lot to esteem about FAULTS; the tight screenplay (by director Riley Stearns) sported sharp dialogue, ambitious themes and an engrossing narrative from so sad it was funny beginning to warped WTF end. There’s always a beauty (for me anyways) about a film that totally has me in the dark as to the true M.O. of its characters and WHERE the story is going and for the most part FAULTS had that on me. I was definitely kept on my toes! The performance driven nature of the piece captivated me as well! Now that I think of it; the movie was almost akin to a stage play being that the action was mostly set in one location (a motel room) and the meat was all about Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing verbal ping-pong. Now, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was solid once again, emanating a tantalizing mix of naive, enigmatic and sexy. But at the end of the neck snap this was Orser’s dog and pony show. The veteran actor got to hit every note and show off his well-oiled acting skills with this layered role. He put out a funny, sad, intense and empathetic performance. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen when he was on it – which was almost all of the time. The man commanded it i.e. he made it his bitch!
On an aesthetic front; the audio/visual approach was stylish yet bathed in subtlety. Stearns’s style didn’t bring too much attention to itself, which was ideal for a film of this ilk. Coupled with the subversive soundtrack/sound design it made for a bizarre yet entrancing experience (I watched the film with my headset on, so the sounds really stood out). Add to all that a talented secondary cast (Chris Ellis, Lance Reddick Beth Grant and Jon Gries who stole every scene he was in), an able juggling act of comedy & drama, so odd they were fascinating character moves (All about that licking…uh? I'm in!) and an easy pace and you get a groovy mind-raping good time! Which brings me to why I’m not giving the film a higher rating; its last act. You see for the bulk of the running time, they played it straight and grounded as to the happenings. But once the final block kicked in – the picture took a drastic left turn and started bombarding me with going-ons that baffled the night of the living shit out of me (and yes that was the point).
Now don't get me wrong here, I love films that speak their own language and challenge me. I adore mulling over them to try to figure them out, talk about them with friends or even re-visit them again with fresh eyes. But in this case, as the end credits rolled I simply didn’t feel the last act lived up to the first hour, I had too many unanswered questions and I didn’t feel fulfilled by the payoff/conclusion – I craved more! Now that may change if I watch the movie again, knowing beforehand what I'm in for, but on a first watch, that is what I got out of it.
On the whole I applaud films like FAULTS! There was lots of talent behind and in front of the camera and it dared to try something new via its story and the way it was told! I’m all for that! This one begs for a second viewing!