Skip to content

#TIFF20 Review: Falling (Special Presentations)

September 18, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The directorial debut of Viggo Mortensen, who also stars in the film in addition to serving as the writer, producer and composer on the project, Falling explores the relationship between a middle aged son and his ailing, elderly father. And it’s the sort of rugged, powerful drama that really sneaks up on you.

John (Mortensen) is in the process of trying to help his abrasive father Willis (Lance Henriksen) move to California, and sell off the farm property in New York State where John grew up and Willis has lived for decades. Things are complicated by the fact that Willis is in the early stages of dementia, amplifying his already gruff persona. John is gay and happily married to Eric (Terry Chen), with whom he shares a daughter (Gabby Velis). Willis is stuck in a different era, making constant inappropriate remarks about his son’s sexuality and other politically incorrect comments.

This toxicity has always been a factor of their relationship, which Mortensen reveals through flashbacks to John as a boy (portrayed by Grady McKenzie, Etienne Kellici and William Healy at three separate stages), and Willis as a younger man (played by Sverrir Gudnason). These flashbacks are artfully woven in and out of the main narrative, allowing them to feel like specific memories that keep being triggered.

Mortensen delivers a strong performance in the leading role, while Henriksen delivers memorable supporting work, bravely taking on the thankless task of portraying a character who has spent his entire life pushing others away. The last act of the film has the most impact, pulling back the different layers and putting the supporting character to the side, to really focus on the relationship between John and Willis. At this point, the film becomes an almost unexpectedly powerful study of how we still love and care for people even if they are awful to us.

Like the character of Willis in the film, Falling can be overbearing and is not always pleasant to be around, as it dredges up a lot of unpleasant emotions. But by the end I found myself legitimately moved by it, in a “you don’t know you’ll miss them until they’re gone” sort of way, and I have a feeling I’ll keep thinking about it for quite some time. I think that just might be the entire point of Mortensen’s film.

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 11th – 4:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sunday, September 13th – 4:45 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Thursday, September 17th – 6:00 PM at Bell Digital Cinema (Online for 24 Hours)

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: