15 February 2013

Movie Review: The Falls

I recall with much hope the promise of Latter Days. I enjoyed it but I felt that the movie did not give enough depth to the LDS/religious aspect and almost caricatured the LDS missionaries (and strangely seemed to somewhat caricature the gay guys too). I liked the story line, so no harm no foul.

But The Falls addresses everything I was expecting from Latter Days and didn't get. Of course, with a $7,000 budget, the production value is superb and the acting is surprisingly very good especially in light of the budget.

This movie is about RJ who is a smart over-achiever from a rural American area and a Mormon. As a devoted, religious Mormon, RJ must go on a mission, which he does in Portland, Oregon. He is paired with Chris and then we go into the day and life of a Mormon missionary in the US. It's apparently rough, as it ought to be when your life mission becomes to convert people to another religion and you're twenty and have very little experience in life to do so.

Chris turns out to be quite moody and the stress of the mission gets to the point where unconscious and repressed issues spring up. Although from a strictly narrative perspective, much of this part of the movie was not necessary, but if the director had not included it, it would have missed the nuance and humanity of gay Mormons, and so it had significant value.

RJ's expression of "same sex attraction" (that's Mormon patois for homosexuality... which they don't recognize as a valid identity or central or integral part of one's identity) is so tender and honest that when the iron fist in the velvet glove of the LDS church comes down on RJ for it, his response is so meaningful and intense.

Now the only thing that I thought was a distracting in this film was Quinn Allan's role as the supervising missionary. First, it was unclear why he did not have a missionary companion. In my understanding, missionaries are never alone and this missionary is always alone. That isn't so bad but his pregnant pauses and facial expressions almost force me out of my suspension of disbelief. It almost feels like he ambiguously traces the possibility that the Mormon church purposefully tests young gay men in the missionary activity.

This is a beautiful movie and anyone that has struggled with religion and sexuality or family and sexuality will definitely feel uplifted from viewing this movie.

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