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‘Delusion’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 04, 1991

"Delusion" is a film-noir good time. A three-way power struggle in the California desert, it pits a yuppie, a hit man and a showgirl against one another. Carl Colpaert's Volvo road picture is full of script potholes but it's an enjoyable ride. What counts is the psychodramatic business, the dark playfulness of it all.

Taking revenge on the raiders who took over his company, computer expert Jim Metzler makes a beeline for Reno with a stash of embezzled money. Somewhere around Death Valley, a weaving car overtakes him, then turns over. Reluctantly, he stops to help. Two strange characters extricate themselves from the wreck. The man (Kyle Secor), a goateed bully, is clearly holding back psychopathic impulses. The woman (Jennifer Rubin), a Vegas "performer," is also missing some cylinders. But she has an unconsciously sexy charm.

Metzler becomes increasingly suspicious of the couple. At the state border he tries to ditch them. That's when Secor pulls out the gun. Metzler's about to take a diversion he hadn't counted on. He's also about to learn disturbing things about himself. Correspondingly, Secor will become more sympathetic.

Belgian director Colpaert punctuates the edginess with deft, filmic moments. Rubin doesn't like to see her companion's gruesome work. As Metzler and Secor duke it out yet again, Colpaert cuts to Rubin. She's sitting in the car, looking away and blocking her ears. When Secor is about to kill another victim, she goes for a swim in a nearby lake. At the moment of fatal impact, Colpaert throws in a burst of Latino music and cuts to Rubin surfacing dolphin-like from the water.

He also laces the movie with dark one-liners. "This is not a good idea," a nervous Rubin whispers to Secor, as the unsuspecting Metzler pumps gas. "He's important. He's got a car phone."

"Delusion" will never be mistaken for a classic. But, with its thoroughly diverting twists and turns, Rubin's eccentric presence, and an appropriately over-the-top performance by Secor, it might just work on you.

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