Delusion opens poorly. It opens like an independent film (not a Miramax release or a Fox Searchlight, but something a guy who owns a chain of car washes invested in) and it opens poorly, like most independent films open. The acting is bad, the writing is bad (the direction is fine). I’ve seen Delusion before (I own the laserdisc), probably four times and the opening had me embarrassed. Based on those first seven or eight minutes, I would have said Jim Metzler was bad and Jennifer Rubin was bad, and Kyle Secor was good. Secor’s got a really goofy, dumb hit man role and then, at times, the character will all of a sudden have some profoundly affecting moment.
Anyway, by the fifteen-minute mark, Delusion‘s completely different. Rubin’s great, Metzler’s great and the writing’s good. There’s no distinguishable reason for the change, except maybe the first act ended or something. Then for an hour, the film’s on track toward something, with all goodness along the way. Where it’s going is never quite clear–so, in the end, where it ends up feels a little odd, with the characters talking to each other about things the viewer should have seen and should understand, but did not see and does not understand.
Another possible reason for the big change is Carl Colpaert’s direction. He really knows how to move a camera, whether Delusion‘s in its thriller mode, its drama mode, or its spaghetti western mode, Colpaert’s composition is really unbelievably good. Especially for an independent film. He knows how to use Panavision. That knowledge is rare among independent filmmakers.
Colpaert and co-writer Kurt Voss run Delusion as a road movie with the little adventures as vignettes. The most successful is the one with Jerry Orbach, who’s absolutely fantastic. The worst–the one where Delusion becomes a Miramax independent for a moment–is when a female biker picks up Metzler and tells him about her time as a soldier in the sexual revolution. Amusingly, it’s like Colpaert realized how badly it played, because it really seems like that section is cut all over.
In the end, it’s really all about Rubin. She’s funny, sad, thoughtful, tragic, smart, dumb; Colpaert and Voss throw all these things at her and she comes out shining. Watching the film, it’s difficult to believe she never made it big, because there was no one else back then who could do all the things she could do.
Directed by Carl Colpaert; written by Colpaert and Kurt Voss; director of photography, Geza Sinkovics; edited by Mark Allan Kaplan; music by Barry Adamson; production designer, Ildiko Toth; produced by Daniel Hassid; released by I.R.S. Releasing Corporation.
Starring Jim Metzler (George O’Brien), Jennifer Rubin (Patti), Kyle Secor (Chevy), Jerry Orbach (Larry) and Robert Costanzo (Myron Sales).