Falling (CIFF 2020)

Viggo Mortensen makes his directorial debut with Falling, a movie about a gay man dealing with his dementia-ridden homophobic father coming to stay with him for a week or two and their interactions both in the current year and during his childhood. The movie flashes back to the past so often that it would cause whiplash if such a thing could do that. Mortensen plays the protagonist, John, as an adult, too, which is great because he really doesn’t act in enough movies, but bad because the role could have gone to a gay actor instead.

The father is played by Lance Henriksen with such a rough edge to him that you will wish for his death by the end of the film. It’s a great performance, don’t get me wrong, but the character is so vile that you almost wish a little bit of kindness would make it through. Even moments in the flashbacks, when the character is instead played by Sverrir Gudnason, that initially appear to be tender turn out to be sequences of abuse. It’s amazing that John turned out as well-adjusted as he did. Falling is as melodramatic as they come, with very few moments that even come close to lightening the mood.

It works because Mortensen, Henriksen, and Gudnason are great in their roles. Mortensen as the quiet, reserved man we’re just waiting to see explode. Henriksen as the fire, the bigot we want to see socked in the mouth. And Gudnason as somehow just as despicable with the way he treats pretty much everyone around him. And while it’s heavy and never lets up, it’s engaging from start to finish, even if some of the scenes wind up feeling redundant. The characters aren’t quite three-dimensional, even with all of the backstory, but the performances are so good that you can’t keep your eyes off them. Sometimes, good acting is enough to carry everything else. And that’s the case with Falling.

Conclusion: Falling succeeds because of its tremendous performances.

Recommendation: Watch Falling for its acting, which is so good you’ll ignore its minor faults.

  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10

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