I’ve rounded up quite a few new interviews Mary has taken part in and reviews for her new film Faults. Hit each link to read them in their entirety and check out the rest after the jump. Also, check the gallery for new pics taken with some of the interviewers.
But Faults is not what it seems. Though a black-comic atmosphere persists, the debut feature is serious about manipulation and brainwashing, and a quietly commanding performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (the director’s wife) helps establish that seriousness once the main plot — in which the failed expert is enlisted to deprogram a couple’s daughter — gets underway. Sure to turn heads at fests, the picture should find enough support to justify an arthouse run. Winstead has plenty of emotional ground to navigate in the ensuing action, pointing viewers down some false paths in our assessment of her state of mind and relationship to those around her.
Winstead provides great innocence and an equal curiosity; she quickly flips between being childlike and being strong-willed without it feeling obvious. But the real standout is the calm demeanor Orser has throughout and the way we slowly find kinks in his armor.
Interview with CineSnob:
Mary, in your performance, you get to show a lot of sides and a lot of different emotions. What was it like playing a character where you could change from scene to scene?
MEW: It was really great. It was simultaneously really exciting for me and really scary for me because I just didn’t know if I would get it right or not when we were working on it. It seemed really daunting to me to get all that right without going into some sort of culty territory. I was really afraid of it coming across as spacey or cliché. But as soon as everything came together and the cast came together and the costumes and the sets…as soon as I walked into that environment I was like, “Oh. This is just what it’s supposed to be.” And the rest of it was so stress free and fun. I enjoyed every moment of it and got to revel in this character. It was one of the best set experiences, acting experiences that I’ve ever had.
Claire has to be a hard balance to play as well.
Winstead: It was, because I have to almost play a few different characters over the course of the film. Leland kind of reminded me the other day that there’s the “before cult” personality and the “after cult” personality, which is a nice way to put it without giving anything away. I had to sort of really keep track from scene to scene to remind myself of where she was – and I really stressed out about it. It was fun, but I stressed out about it more than any other role I’ve ever played. And then as soon as we started it all clicked and it was just the best feeling.
Geek of Doom Review:
Faults is not only a memorable film, but a very good one too. Stearns’ first film is a wild, unsettling trip. It toes the line between absurdist comedy and creepy cult drama, feeling like an amalgam of films like The Last Exorcism and Sound of My Voice.
Speaking of Zal Batmanglij’s 2011 psychological thriller, Winstead’s troubled cult member is reminiscent of Brit Marling’s character. Throughout the film you’re questioning if she can really walk through walls or if she’s just the victim of brainwashing.
Faults is one of the highlights of SXSW: a strangely funny and unique little thriller about indoctrination, mind control, and how blind and overconfident we can be when we think we possess the absolute truth.
One strong element in Faults is how the tables are constantly turning, particularly in the last 30 minutes. One minute we think that Ansel is in control, the next we wonder if Claire has taken the reins. There were several gasps from audience members as secrets were revealed, and characters’ true colors came to light. Stearns really makes us as the audience think about what influences us, and how even when we think we are at our strongest, we can very quickly and easily be our most vulernable selves. It really has nothing to do with a cult at all, but rather our own personal humiliation and perseverance that we so desperately want to hold fast within ourselves.