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faultsEverything you’ve ever wanted (or not wanted) out of a film about cults or fanatics, you can get it with Faults, if you have faith. A Quirky, intense, tragic, and darkly humorous film, Faults will leave you with an eerie feeling that the power of persuasion can cultivate any intended response and at the same time it can be a hazardous to ones health.

The story begins with Ansel, (Leland Orser) a self pitying, down in the dumps caricature of his former self. The type of man to steal batteries out of a television remote from a hotel room (which he does), a dolly, towels, and even wire hangers. Ansel is an author, but his special niche lies in seminars intended to deprogram individuals that have been brainwashed by cultists. Ansel looks haggard, tired, and it is obvious that life has not been so kind to him by the time we meet up with him. At his hotel conference promoting his new and seemingly unpopular book, Ansel is approached by Evelyn (Beth Grant) & her husband, who are desperate to get their daughter back who has been brainwashed by a cult called “Faults”. Ansel is reluctant to take on the case because the last time he attempted to deprogram someone, it failed miserably and left him with all of the guilt for this proposed failure. However, Ansel is in debt, due to taking on the expenditures of self-publication with the help of his seedy manager. Reluctantly, Ansel agrees to take on the job. After kidnapping the couples daughter, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and taking her to a motel to start the deprogramming, Ansel finds himself questioning his own beliefs and we have to wonder, who is deprogramming whom?

What is free will? What is failure? These are two prominent questions proposed in Faults that builds quietly in Ansel until it crescendos into an unhealthy clamor. Although the SXSW crowd seemed to laugh quite a bit, I found it was uncomfortable laughter. The film has a cultist quality linked to group-think themes, coupled with Ansel’s overgrowing instability, which at times feels rushed and underdeveloped, but is executed well by Leland Orser’s acting. The beauty of the film relies on bringing desperation into the scenery and how vulnerability makes us susceptible as humans to unexpected moldings.

Faults is a dark tale and is another great film I’ve seen at SXSW for the films selection. ¬†There is a tinge of supernatural elements with divine intervention sprinkled in (or is there?), so that makes for interesting storytelling. ¬†Even if you do not find it to be a great film, you will do not have free will and you WILL like it.

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