Santa Fe

on August 01, 2008 by Jon Alon Walz
   The proliferation of new-age cultists in Santa Fe, N.M. over the past decade has given screenwriters Mark Medoff (who wrote the play and film "Children of a Lesser God") and Andrew Shea (who also here directs) the impetus to create this often hilarious and surprisingly intelligent movie about a troubled man and his battles with a cult leader. Paul Thomas ("The Brady Bunch's" Gary Cole) has just returned to Santa Fe to visit the wife and daughter he saved from a bizarre Waco-esque military standoff in Wyoming several years back. He was injured during a shoot-out after valiantly pulling his family out of a cult compound--where he too had been sucked in as a member. So he's shocked to find his wife associating again with fringe cult types, including her boss, Dan, a spiritual chiropractic guru, as well as a woman his daughter Crystal calls "Aunt Eleanor" ("The Inner Circle's" Lolita Davidovich), who runs a self-help resort outside of town.
   In an attempt to pull his life back together, Paul persuades the city to reinstate him as a cop and, at the demand of his precocious daughter, he begins dating again. His only respondent to a personal ad is, ironically, Eleanor; in trying to explain her beliefs to him, she unintentionally draws him into her "circle" while, conversely, she begins to reject a lot of her ideals after Paul relates the stories about his past. It's a train wreck waiting to happen, but ti can end with nothing less than love.
   Medoff and Shea create a world that teeters on the edge of reality but never falls off into the wildly absurd. The dialogue, peppered with sharp political discourse and musings about the nature of cult obsessions, is as engaging as the superb ensemble acting.
Starring Gary Cole, Lolita Davidovich, Sheila Kelley and Jere Burns
Directed by Andrew Shea
Written by Mark Medoff and Andrew Shea
Produced by Larry Estes and Andrew Shea
An Absolute Unequivocal production; no distributor set. Comedy/drama.
Rated R for language, a sex scene and a violent sequence
Running time: 97 min
Tags: Starring Gary Cole, Lolita Davidovich, Sheila Kelley and Jere Burns. Directed by Andrew Shea. Written by Mark Medoff, Andrew Shea, Produced by Larry Estes, Comedy, drama

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