Review by Sarah Williams
International Falls is for everyone dreaming of getting out of their small town. It's about human connection, and finding the right person that comes along to share a moment of similarity. It's a love letter to those hopeless mall towns that feel like they are walked in by something stronger than any physical barrier. Above all, it does this within standard indie festival premiere trappings, a lo-fi method of getting emotions across often skipped in broader stories.
An aspiring comedian finds herself stranded in a small town mid-snowstorm, where she meets a disgruntled veteran of the industry. He is tired of comedy, and wants nothing more than to leave. Their attitudes towards comedy are what divide them most, but their shared ties to that world also bring them together. Dee (Rachael Harris) is middle-aged, and feels trapped by her life as a mother in International Falls, Minnesota. Tim (Matthew Glave) considers himself a burnt-out nobody, and as the two grow closer, he confesses that he is going through a divorce, and is about to lose custody of his son.
Once the confessions start to fall out, the connection is real, and though it is hesitant, a gentle mutual understanding forms. It’s the kind of bond that comes with being in a bad place, and bored with life. The town of International Falls doesn’t have much to offer, and is part of a dying breed of small towns that the residents all want to leave behind, totally unconnected from one another. Cheating is not an obstacle here, as this is a bubble within their lives that will not leave the shared experience in this small town.
So many stories of one night stands are about a one night stand gone wrong, but this is a one night stand gone right. This one night stand ends in a passing of advice between the overly hopeful and the overly hopeless, and they end up finding the sweet spot somewhere in the middle. It continues on after the one night unlike usual, but the relationship shifts enough that that one night is its own entity. Tim and Dee find momentary comfort in each other, and confessions spill out. That night’s comedy show will be Tim’s last.
The international aspect mentioned in the title is barely so. From the town, a bit of an industrial part of Canada is visible across the waters. There is no waterfall to speak of. The name of this small town perfectly exemplifies that village mindset. It over-exaggerates any ties to the outside world, hinging on the tiny hopeful view of Canada for purpose.
International Falls is a nice, easy to follow indie flick that’s nothing to write home about, but solid entertainment. It's a simple two people coming together story to put on without having to think too hard, and it’s fairly engaging. The script balances comedy with heart, has dialogue that grows touchingly poignant, and features characters we actually care for. It is hard to make a comedy about the world of comedy, but instead of forced laughs, tender reality is the focus, and the humor comes from the mundane instead of the forced. It's not perfect, nor does it elevate the basic storyline and form much, but it's simple, sweet entertainment that does its job well.
International Falls is now available on VOD.