As each relentless night turns towards day, Ernest Rackman turns towards violence to escape thoughts of loneliness and suicide. Then he poses as a police officer and rescues a young girl from her parent’s apartment, where she was forced into a compromising life. Having discharged his violence, he plans to move forward with this new relationship, but the demons of loneliness and despair still haunt him.
Ernest Rakman (Michael Wyle) is a likeable character. Despite his day job as counter help to a local adult entertainment store, he seems to keep pretty good spirits. You might say there is some humor in his day to day, which usually consists of warding off customers who bother others or overstay their welcome. Then there is the occasional freak or deviant who just takes advantage of the environment. But hey, as I said, Ernest seems like a good fellow on the surface, kind, considerate, and friendly. This idea is what really works for this film, as on one hand we have Ernest who is surface level charming, on the other he frequents drug abuse and bouts of isolated rage outbreaks. They initially seem confined to his small low rent apartment, his actions seeming to be the result of his internal sense of loneliness and frustration.
Ernest’s loneliness seems to contradict his persona, which is later exposed as a awkward inability to address females he is interested in, in a proper manner. It is not even so much his approach but rather his inability to abstain from small talk that is untimely or inappropriate.
“God’s Lonely Man” takes on a more personal direction by confronting the internal sense that one can suffer from. As we absorb pieces of Ernest life, we are also consumed by his dark sense and the insufferable haunting that embellishes within him. His choices in life, his sense of wanting to systemize his way of living, and his uneventful weekends that seem limited to collecting magazine cutouts and taking in way too many drugs, almost contradict who we see him as.
Justine Bateman also co-stars in a smaller role as Meradith, Ernest’s co-worker and daughter to the boss. Though it is Heather McComb’s performance that really shines through out this film contrasted against Michael Wyle’s oddly mysterious nature.
As the film transpires into its primary direction, Ernest meets a young girl by the name of Christiane Birsh (Heather McComb), a 15 year recovering user who he befriends after her AA class. Christiane is different than his unusual encounters as her vibrant friendliness and bubbly personality seems almost perfectly suited for Ernest. Ernest a 28 year old man, realizes that she is in need of his care and guidance while at the same time staying alert to the fact that she is still underage. But with need comes purposes, which elevates to a newly found purpose calling out to Ernest.
The 2 hit it off as Ernest single handily rescues her from her extremely abusive lifestyle which in a sense contradicts her nature and persona. As we hear more from Christiane and she details how her stepfather rapes her and exposes her to drugs, illegal underage sex filmings and (essentially) forms of prostitution, the irony of her naively is almost more disturbing in itself. Christiane discuses several horrible acts which her and her friends have been subjected to as if it were a trip to an amusement park. Ernest, who impersonates a security guard decides to take matters into his own hands. His execution and delivery is what makes for engaging viewing it itself.
The film has charm while sitting nicely beneath a wall of sleaze and debauchery. When Ernest decides to enforce matters and make things right, “God’s Lonely Man ” quickly takes a turn with extremely violent acts that jump into the spotlight hammering in a dark tone into the film. The transformation is what makes this such a great piece to experience. On the contrast, there is the internal struggle which constantly calls out to Ernest as we hear his thoughts narrated out loud.
Director Francis von Zerneck has created a fantastic piece, that funnels its way almost instantly into a cult genre creation. The film manages to incorporate a warm relationship which funnels its way past the more controversial elements. That kind of accomplishment doesn’t come easy. With an ending that leaves room for audience carry over, I believe that in the end, it is irony that really takes the stage here. “God’s Lonely Man” is an older gem that really deserves more attention…check it out.
God’s Lonely Man (1996)