I will say right off the bat that this film will be divisive, and I understand why. This film makes you feel some sort of way. There is something there underneath the surface that is almost inexplicable. The question is whether it is off putting or not.
Ansel Roth, an expert on mind control, but it is clear that his glory days are long behind him. When we are introduced to him he’s trying to reuse a coupon for his meal at the hotel where he’s giving a speech on his new book about free will. There are very few people who have signed up for his seminar and he’s evidently in deep financial trouble. An opportunity for redemption shows up when a couple ask Ansel to help them with their daughter. They say she has changed dramatically after finding a mysterious cult and that they are afraid of losing her.
Riley Stearns’ Faults is that unclassifiable cross-genre indie that dabbles in broad humor, black comedy, thriller and the supernatural. He makes no bones about what his influences are. With it’s period decor, clever cinematography, and neo-noir-esque aesthetic, the film will immediately feel familiar for those that grew up with video-tape-era auteurs (Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, etc.), but Faults still has plenty of originality too it. It’s a tricky storyline with a surprising and gratifying twist, and Stearns has cast a fine team of actors who understand the dynamics of role-reversals.
Although it suffers from tonal inconsistencies, Faults’ ambiguous genre footing is also its greatest strength, generating unease and suspense through its chameleonic structure and plotting. It sags in the middle but picks up steam exponentially in the last act with a clever twist.
Orser is incredibly convincing as a man living a fraudulent life – he’s assured and confident when working with Claire, but becomes increasingly anxious when confronting personal affairs. Winstead is known for her understated yet perfectly measured performances, and her turn in “Faults” is no exception. She plays Claire with a quiet defiance, while maintaining an inscrutability that allures and unsettles.
Faults also employs some dark humor at times, and I’ve never seen a film balance that and more serious, intense elements so well. I thoroughly enjoyed Faults and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different and more intense.
Faults gets an 7.8/10.
Faults is streaming now on Netflix US!