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TIFF 2020 Review: Falling

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The world is blurring between the past and present which only fuels the rage of Willis (Lance Henriksen) and the disfranchisement with his adult children, John (Viggo Mortensen) and Sarah (Laura Linney). 

On the plane with his son John, Willis displays a profane, obstinate, volatile, and bigoted nature that is uncontrollable.  Flashbacks are intercut revealing that as his dementia worsens the past and present are blurring together and that his antagonistic personality has remained constant through the years.  The contrast is furthered by the fact that his children John and Sarah are as compassionate as he is intolerant.

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It is hard to ignore the acting of Viggo Mortensen and Laura Linney who both have a career of stalwart performances and are a joy to see onscreen together; there is nothing flashy in the way that they display their emotions which serves to amplify them even further.  The trouble is that Willis is an over the top persona that is always on volume 10 causing him to become just noise.  Perhaps this is a realistic portrayal.  Do people really change?  There is a movie adage that says characters have arcs in Hollywood while they are just trying to survive in independent productions.  Falling definitely falls into the latter category.

The real craftsmanship is in the ability to use fragments of the past and integrate them with the present to visually show the deteriorating mental state and train of thought of Willis.  The past is portrayed in warm earth tones to provide a sense of nostalgia whereas the present has a cool colour pallet which resembles a coldness that Willis feels toward the world.  It is always tricky balancing performing and directing at the same time but Viggo Mortensen is a Renaissance man making him able to aptly handle the dual roles. It will be intriguing to see how he is able to build upon this experience for the next cinematic outing behind the camera.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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