Apr 13, 2014

[Movies] The Falls (2012)

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a fan of the now classic LGBT  movie Latter Days, which was a peculiar exploration of what is practically a porn sub-genre - that of gay Mormon missionaries. It was pretty decently made and had a good enough story and one hot protagonist in the form of Steve Sandvoss. Oh Steve, I miss you. Why did you quite acting in moves?

But back on point, we're here to talk about The Falls, which apparently is another gay movie that tries to tackle the gay Mormon sub-culture (or whatever you want to call it). And while Latter Days had a predominantly lighter, often comedic tone, The Falls is a more serious drama that tries to address the subject. And this time around, the love interest is not some out and proud party boy.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie, but had gotten curious enough about seeing it given how often it came up among my Amazon recommendations.

Synopsis: The Falls is a Canadian drama movie written and directed by Jon Garcia. It was only while drafting this review that I discovered that this movie actually has a sequel, The Falls: Testament of Love. I'm not sure if I want to bother seeing that one.

The movie starts out somber enough with Elder RJ Smith (Nick Ferrucci) traveling to Oregon as part of his missionary obligations as a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. There he is paired with the more senior Elder Chris Merrill (Ben Farmer) and the two work together to get RJ up-to-speed with the missionary routine and out there on the streets trying to preach the good words of Joseph Smith. It's quite the struggle as RJ discovers how people just aren't quite as receptive to their efforts as he had expected.

But encounters with various individuals who continually challenge their beliefs begin to take their toll on the pair, especially Elder Merrill. More and more he finds himself questioning his faith and struggling with his rather repressed feelings for RJ. And soon their doubts about their religion give way to their growing feelings for one another and the two start to neglect their missionary duties in favor of further exploring what their feelings for one another mean.

The first half of the movie is all about the Mormon routine and the subtle cracks in their armor of faith that form over time. That said, the pacing naturally feels a lot slower than the rest of the movie as we too get sucked into their daily routine of waking up early, saying their prayers and trying to give out pamphlets to passers by. This part of the movie is not done in a manner that passes judgement for or against the Mormon faith - it just seems to present it as is and leaves it to the audience to form their own opinions.

Things naturally shift when the two give into their feelings and start exploring their sexuality together. We don't go as far as them suddenly dressing in a flamboyant manner or hitting the nearest gay club - all of which are pretty ridiculous alternatives. However we do have them practically showing of in front of one of the folks they were unable to convert.

You know that the religious angle has to come back around to bite them in the butt - it seems to be a requirement for any gay movie with strong religious themes. And in this regard there's still the confrontation, but I didn't feel like there was a strong resolution to things. Perhaps it was an effort not to seem to be attacking the Mormon religion too harshly. But given that it really doesn't take a stand - just has these two young men struggling with their feelings in contrast to their religion.

The Falls is heavy, but not in a cerebral, fulfilling way. It has some light moments, but not enough to offset the often dragging pace of things It has moments of intimacy that are neither titillating nor all that endearing. The whole movie simply just...is. And given that lack of stronger emotional impact, I guess I can only rate this movie as 1.5 odd Mormon jokes out of a possible 5.

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