'Delusion': slick but slack

December 09, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

"Delusion," which opens today at the Charles, is a nasty bit of business from a group of young people that have almost certainly read too much Jim Thompson. Why aren't these kids reading Faulkner, Wolfe, Hemingway or Melville? The answer is that they've probably never heard of Faulkner, Wolfe, Hemingway or Melville.

Thompson, a hack from Annadarko, Okla., had a minor talent but such a morose view of life and human pathology that his original paperbacks always boasted a vivid spark of nihilism. For reasons having more to do with the morbid tastes of the industry rather than its capacity to distinguish between the good and the crummy, he seems to be undergoing a minor movie resurgence, though films made from his work have almost never succeeded financially: Stix nix hack's pix.

Anyway, "Delusion" certainly calls up the Thompson oeuvre, if it doesn't specifically acknowledge it. A failed, cowardly businessman who's just stolen $450,000 from the company that fired him and is fleeing to Reno, becomes involved in the desert with a listless young couple who turn out to be a sub-IQ hit man and his dreamy moll. They have a number of spirited encounters and more than a few people die.

At the end, everybody is totally destroyed, except the moronic girl, who simply walks away without looking back. You have the )) feeling you will remember the events of the plot far longer than she will.

Throughout, the single method of the story is sheer coincidence, which seems to trouble nobody connected with the film in the slightest bit. It also appears to take place in a world as empty as the moon of other humans: just these little squalid geeks and their little squalid crimes.

Jim Metzler plays Michael, the larcenous businessman, with just the right edge of despair and greed. Kyle Secor is a discovery as Chevy, the gunman, white trash all the way from his tattoos to his goatee. He's a truly scary character, particularly as he waves his gun around like a child's toy.

The girl Patti is played by the leggy Jennifer Rubin; she is truly beautiful but her complete disconnection from not only her fellow characters but her society and all moral systems is truly frightening. In her highly decorated, hand-tooled boots, she proves that even cowgirls get the blahs.

Carl Colpaert has directed in a slick visual style that emphasizes the vastness of the desert and the sleekness of the automobiles and the tininess of the human figures. It is altogether appropriate to the meaningless of the film.

'Delusion'

Starring Jim Metzler, Kyle Secor and Jennifer Rubin

Directed by Carl Colpaert

Released by Cineville

Rated R

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