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David is a young man seduced by a religious cult that uses starvation, exhaustion, and brainwashing to mold recruits into money hustling disciples of a messiah-like leader. Chronicles David's chilling transformation into a gaunt, mindless shadow of his former self...and his ultimate salvation when friends and family launch a plan to kidnap and deprogram him. Written by
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Nick Mancuso throws his all into the part of David, a young man seeking some meaning from his messy life who ends up bound tight in the web of a quasi-religious cult group. But he's got some big competition from co-star Saul Rubinek.
In the early eighties there were a couple of films fascinated by ideas of brainwashing, religious cults and deprogramming. Split Image is a companion piece to this film, which will interest many simply because of Kim Catrall's appearance as the obsessessed Ruthie, but which is even more notable I think for the strong friendship between Saul Rubinek's stand-up comedian character and the troubled protagonist, David. The film builds a poignant, revealing portrait of these two friends whose bond is crucial in determining both their futures. Rubinek is one of those instantly familiar faces whose performances in films like The Contender, Nixon, True Romance, and Dick conceal him in that strange underclass of actors - the supporting player (as opposed to the more showy supporting "Actor" parts claimed by brilliant die-hards like Dennis Hopper and Dianne Wiest.)
In this film, however, he shines and deserves to be seen in an excellently performed role. Mancuso similarly hasn't had much chance to fire like he does here (admittedly he wasn't the greatest Marquis De Sade in the film of the same name a couple of years back). His transformation here though is painful to watch but compelling and easy to empathise with as he struggles with notions of identity and truth.
If this film has any problem it is that the film is kind of tailored-for-effect a little too neatly like a tv movie, but it still manages to provoke some suspense thanks to the intensely credible performers.
An interesting lost gem of the early eighties.
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