Faults (2014)

faults01Faults has many tricks up its sleeve.  The first being that the first scene in the diner leads us to expect a Coen Brothers style of comedy.  In fact, cult deprogrammer Ansel Roth seems at times to be perfectly channeling William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo.  He needs money, he is twitchy-nervous, he will constantly tell small shortsighted lies which will only benefit him until the next question.  He even loses control and begins flailing his arms around in frustration.  He a loser.

Though it is impossible to watch this first scene and not start thinking of Macy, it takes only seconds for Leland Orser to replace him in your mind.  Whether he had Macy in mind when forming this character, or not, Orser owns it — both in the first scene and as the tone of the movie changes.

faults02From his brown suit to the gross way he scoops up ketchup with his fries, to his trying to scam the diner out of a free meal and struggling with the manager, it is a great dark comic scene establishing his loserhood.  It is a delight, but not a surprise that he steals batteries out of the hotel’s TV remote.

He exudes a little more confidence when he is standing in front of the small group that is attending his seminar / book-signing seminar at the hotel.  But really, how many people is that topic going to draw?  The ones that are there certainly have little interest in buying his books.  It is strange that they did not set this in a larger room to emphasize the size of the crowd.

faults03Book-signings are kind of anxiety-inducing events anyway.  If it is a popular author, you will have no time at all with them, and walk away with an illegible scribble.  I can’t even conceive what a proper thing to say is.  What could you possibly say to them that they haven’t heard a million times; and what could you ask them that you couldn’t Google in 30 seconds.  You’re left with a full price hard-cover that has gained nothing  in value[1].

faults04If it is a less popular, or local, author, it is just kind of sad seeing them sit at the little table by themselves with stacks of unsold books as you can’t help but glance furtively from your various vantage points in the store.  It’s like a guy at CostCo whose at the end of the aisle whose job is giving out samples of kale.

I am trying (and projecting ahead, probably failing) to make 500 words without saying almost anything about the story.  Claire’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) parents hire Roth to kidnap their daughter for deprogramming from the Faults cult.  Even though he is a loser who has recently fallen-from-grace, he once had a TV show and a popular book.  And frankly there aren’t that many deprogrammers in the yellow pages[2].

There are so many things to be enjoyed along the way, that I just can’t being myself to pick and choose.

This is a good one.


  • [1] The same booksigning issues also all apply to the actors who appear at conventions. At least there you can gawk at the actors — hey, that Traci Lords is holding up well!
  • And paying for an autograph at a convention would just make me feel like a whore even though I’m the one paying (in theory — I don’t really get the point of that either (in the convention context)).
  • [2] Fat yellow books of phone numbers in the old days that listed businesses by category, then alphabetically — so every region had an AAA Bail Bondsman and AAA Locksmith).
  • Title Analysis:  Conveniently, Faults is the name of the cult.  Claire explains that it means a change is on the way.  Roth later describes how pressure can build in a fault causing it to explode.  So, well done.
  • And that’s 600.

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