Saturday, February 6, 2016

Streaming tip: Riley Stearns' indie, FAULTS, proves a superb surprise in every way

One of those streaming surprises that catch you up between breaths in their twisty, funny, spacey logic, as well as a movie that knows exactly what it's doing while keeping a number of steps ahead of its audience, FAULTS , written and directed by Riley Stearns, opened theatrically in a very limited released almost one year ago, and, as often happens to low-budget independent films, simply disappeared. It's available now via Netflix streaming and Amazon (and probably elsewhere), and it is a don't-miss movie for anyone who enjoys something different that is just about perfectly executed.

Mr. Stearns, shown at left, has come up with something equal parts darkly comic, timely and increasingly bizarre, and he has cast it to perfection, too, -- using his wife, that superb actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and an equally fine actor, Leland Orser, in the leading roles.  Ms Winstead (shown below and currently getting her long overdue moment in the sun in the new PBS series, Mercy Street), has given nonstop great performances in everything from the latest remake of The Thing to Smashed. I would say that she has outdone herself with Faults, except she always outdoes herself. That seems to come naturally to the woman.

Her co-star, Mr. Orser (shown below), too, proves a surprise. A fine actor (and one of the reasons Taken 3 was a better movie that most critics wanted to admit), he matches Winstead scene for scene and surprise for surprise. What these characters do and go through in the course of this 89-minute movie is, as we used to say, a humdinger.

The story is a simple and sturdy one: a down-on-his-luck fellow whose career has been all about deprogramming victims of cults, is hired by the parents of a young woman who's been recently "cultivated."  His job is to deprogram her as quickly as possible. That he himself is in big financial trouble proves no small inducement to take this latest case.

The movie is by turns funny, bizarre, dramatic and understated. And the performances from the entire cast are simply terrific. These include Beth Grant and Chris Ellis and the parents, Jon Gries as Orser's boss, and Lance Reddick as the boss' hired hand.

Everything works in Faults, and the beauty of the film is how it works. Part mystery, part comedy, part drama, part "exposé," a movie this good does not appear all that often. Pounce, please -- and do so before you learn much more about this very special film. (I am adding it now to my best-of-last-year list.)

No comments: