Review by Dan Skip Allen
Viggo Mortensen is primarily known as an Academy Award-nominated actor in such films as Captain Fantastic, Green Book, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His latest film, Falling, is his directorial debut. He also wrote and composed the music for the film. I guess you could say he does quadruple duty on the film. Even though not many people can do that in any given film, Mortensen doesn't entirely successful.
Falling is the story of a father and son in the past and present time. Young Willis is played by Sverrir Gudnason and in the older is played by Lance Henriksen. Mortensen plays adult John Peterson. Willis comes to visit him in California. He causes a rift between himself and the family. He's not the easiest person to like or get along with.
Falling is an unusual family story. Adult John has a husband and a daughter. This is something his old-fashioned father can't abide by. And his mouth gets him into a lot of trouble. He's not the most uncouth person in the world. He tends to get people upset by all the rude comments he makes. He's a bit obnoxious and means at times to the family.
Mortensen plays John very subdued while Henriksen plays Willis very gruff and angry most of the time. This leaves their relationship one of turmoil and aggravation. Most families have their share of issues, but these two are like water and vinegar when they are around each other. John's life choices don't help him at all regarding Willis' opinion of him either.
His illness is getting the best of him. It makes him have dreams and see things that aren't there. He has some form of dementia as well. Despite his illness and his demeanor towards everybody, John still tries to help him throughout the film. He is a grumpy old man. He doesn't want anything from his son. Henriksen plays this man as mean as possible to get the full nastiness out of his character.
The back and forth that the film has is effective in seeing the two sides of the character. It also takes away the focus from the present-day storyline of the father's medical issues and the son's struggles to help him despite him not wanting any help. This film is disorganized in that way. It doesn't know what parts to focus on. The editing is fine. The script needed some work though. These are all issues a first-time director would usually encounter on a film.
Falling lacks focus. It has good intentions in telling both sides of this father-son story. It just doesn't execute them very well. Mortensen focuses more on the father figure but leaves his character by the wayside in the end. The father is the more interesting character in the story, but I would have liked to see more of the son's motivations in his life choices and story. Little bits and pieces in the dialogue didn't do him justice.
Falling hits theaters and VOD on February 5.
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