Faults, the directorial debut from Riley Stearns, is one of the best films of the year so far. Leland Orser plays Ansel, a published author and public speaker. It starts off as a comedy. We see Ansel at a hotel restaurant trying to use a voucher he used the night before for a free meal. He refuses to pay for the meal when told he cannot reuse his voucher. The scene escalates to him eventually being forcefully dragged out of his booth. Having not known much about this one, I was expecting this to be a comedy after this scene. That would not have been a problem, but what Stearns has in stores is more. While Ansel is speaking at a hotel on the subject of cults, a mother and a father approach him. Their daughter, Claire, remarkably played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is part of a cult called Faults. The next morning, they invite Ansel out for breakfast. He jumps at the idea when they say that they will be paying. The mother and father do not know what to do. They want to get their daughter back. Ansel says he might be able to get her back to normal, but for the large fee of $20,000. The couple will do all that it takes and hires him. Ansel and a group of thugs grab Claire off the street and take her back to a motel. Now at the motel room, the plot sets in.
Ansel begins to deconstruct Claire. The two play off of each other marvelously. There are some surprising twists and turns along the way. The screenplay, written by director Riley Stearns, is truly fantastic. The characters slowly begin to show their true colors as we learn more and more about them. Their talk back and forth is always captivating. Faults flies by with a ninety minute runtime. Not once did I check how much time I had left on the film. The biggest problem with Faults is a side plot with Lance Reddick and Jon Griers. Ansel owes Jon Griers’ character a large some of money. Lance Reddick was absolutely phenomenal on The Wireand Fringe. He is a great character actor, but he is nothing to do here besides to occasionally harass Ansel. This whole side plot felt like filler and takes away from the interesting story that is going on with Claire. None of it was remotely interesting and I could not have cared less. Even with those faults, Faults is of the few films I can call an essential 2015 viewing so far this year.