LD Transfer: Very Good
LD Extras: n/a
Label: Columbia / TriStar
Released: June 11, 1991
Genre: Suspense / Crime / Film Noir
Synopsis: Thinking he’s a rich man, a downsized software executive and his stolent funds are taken hostage by an itinerant hitman and his moll en route to Reno.
Special Features: (none)
Drawing from archetypal noir films, Carl Colpaert and Kurt Voss’ script has a not-so innocent man – software developer / embezzler George (Jim Metzler) – conned and soon forcibly assigned as lead driver for a mysterious couple en route to Las Vegas. Chevvy (Kyle Secor) is the enforcer determined to finish a job without any loose ends, and girlfriend / aspiring showgirl Patti (Jennifer Rubin) is his sometimes pleasant stress relief, although from the couple’s first petty argument it’s obvious Patti is looking for a way out of her pretty shitty relationship.
Chevvy has no idea the trunk’s spare tire is smothered in a quarter of a million dollars cash, but when Patti finds the money on her own, she realizes it marks a rare opportunity to fulfill her dreams, and leave her thuggish boyfriend for good.
During their journey, George is taken to a camper inhabited by Chevvy’s old mentor Larry (Jerry Orbach), and while Patti gives him an opportunity to escape from the isolated location, it doesn’t end well, putting George in a less than favourable light with Chevvy.
The beauty of Colpaert and Voss’s script is its simplicity, their trio of vivid characters, and the dry, dark humour which often reflects the fluctuating power struggles among the three. Rubin probably has the best role of her career, transforming a generic moll into a savvy, patient woman who awaits the right series events before designing her exit strategy.
Homicide‘s Secor is perfectly cast as a thug with simple rules for his work, but a total weakness for gambling, and Orbach adds extra colour in his brief scenes as the mentor who’s put in a typically ironic position.
What’s particularly refreshing about Delusion is the suggestion of impending violence and flaring temper without any graphic and indulgent scenes; it’s probably a reflection of the era, but there’s a consistent balance between unease and humour, and Colpaert never goes for exploitive violence. His direction is classical but visually streamlined, and he confidently lets the actors transfer subtext, which is more often sufficient in conveying the powerplays in flux.
Perhaps the best scene showing restraint comes when George is forced to dig his own grave in a desert valley, and eventually gets into a rich scuffle with Chevvy. Colpaert keeps the camera on Patti, and we watch as she cranks up the stereo to smother the racket as the two men blurrily fight in the distance. When she finally turns away from the violence, Colpaert re-adjusts the camera to capture Patti as she closes her eyes, blocking the sights & sounds of Chevvy’s cruelty.
Rubin doesn’t have much dialogue and is partly noir eye candy (yes, there’s a topless scene), but the desert valley scene ties directly to her glee when she’s finally in possession of George’s money (chanting ‘I-am-a-very-very-rich-girl’ to herself like a child).After watching her take crap from Chevvy’s antics, it’s a relief to see Patti with a rich exit plan, but the script adds a few white lies that end the film with a great standoff setpiece, and one clear winner in Colpaert & Voss’s neat little drama.
Like the best desert-laden noirs (Violent Saturday, Inferno, Colpaert exploits the beauty of the desert, using its vast nothingness as the ultimate stressor for two key characters: George, a man essentially kinapped by two eccentrics after he deluded himself into thinking he could abscond with monies from a recently downsized software company; and Patti, forced to travel with an idiot suffering from a delusion that he will eventually build a life with her.
As of this writing, Delusion is still unavailable on DVD, but Columbia’s old laserdisc preserves Geza Sinkovics’ widescreen cinematography, and the stereo surround mix is sparse but affecting, offering crisp sound effects and little bits of score culled from select non-film music by Barry Adamson (Lost Highway).
Colpaert’s filmography became heavier in the producing department, whereas Voss wrote a number of low-budget crime films (a few of which he directed), but he’s perhaps better-known for co-writing the anti-drug film Where the Day Takes You (1992) for director Mark Rocco.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review