Falling, 2006

Something of a muted hybrid between a thirty-something version of the existential crossroads between the freedom of academic emancipation and the responsibilities of adulthood captured by Jae-eun Jeong in Take Care of My Cat crossed with Alain Tanner’s perceptive portrait of the May 68 generation in the aftermath of the failed cultural revolution in Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, Falling is an admirable, understated, and introspective (and, perhaps, even redemptive in light of Barbara Albert’s insubstantive and maddeningly divergent preceding film Free Radicals) self-reflexive exposition on the inevitable temperance of idealism, relevance, and integrity that comes with maturity, disappointment, and the realization of real world compromises. Chronicling the journey and solemn reunion of a group of former schoolmates and best friends, now independent women in their mid thirties who have returned to their hometown in rural Austria to mourn the death of a favorite, idealistic teacher and lifelong, uncompromising May 68 radical who instilled in the once impressionable young women a sense of activism, critical thinking, and social responsibility (and who, for some of the women, also signified an erstwhile lover): a modestly successful voice dubbing actress who lives in Germany, a pregnant bohemian resigned to the reality of bringing up her child as a single parent after her lover is deported, a career office worker who after years of struggle has finally established herself as a serious businesswoman in the corporate world, an ex-convict on continued monitored supervision who has minimal contact with her adolescent daughter, and a reticent, enigmatic woman who has remained in the small town long after the others set out to find their fortunes in the big cities. Confronted with the sobering realization of their own mortality, disappointment, and unrealized dreams as they leave the carefree days of youth behind and begin to approach the critical, life altering choices and peremptory responsibilities of marriage, career, children, and even moral direction that come with being of age, the film is a thoughtful, elegiac, and sensitively rendered zeitgeist portrait of passage, regret, community, friendship, and survival.

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