It’s likely that you will have seen, at some time in your life, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who are also known as Mormons. They are smart, young men, who wear white shirts and have black name badges.
These missionaries travel the world and work in pairs to spread the beliefs of the church. The Falls is the story of two of these young men.
The Falls is about Chris and RJ, well mostly RJ. He is the main focus of the film and the action, if you can call it that, starts with him. He is a mormon and leaves his home to become a missionary, something that everyone has to do in their church it seems. Whereas many of these missionaries go far away, even as far as the UK, RJ is a little disappointed that he is only going six hours away.
When he arrives he meets the other man who he will spend his time with, Elder Merrill (Chris). After getting to know each other, they start planning their days and go out onto the streets of wherever it is they are to deliver the beliefs of their church.
All goes well to start with but then things get a bit rough. They are invited into people’s homes and their hosts aren’t always that nice; they like to challenge the Mormon views and the two young men find that hard.
Then, one night, after they have been spending their days together they start to have more of a connection.
Now you don’t need to know much about the film to know that RJ and Chris fall for each other - the strapline for the film on the sleeve is ‘Love is not a sin’. In one way you could say that this is a shame and that them falling for each other should be a surprise. Unfortunately it is the one thing you will know and you will be, like I was, waiting for the denouement. This, to me, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it would make a great plot twist, but then if you didn’t know it was going to happen why else would you watch it? After all, two Mormon missionaries falling for each other is more than a little controversial and the main reason why most people will watch it.
All that said, when it does happen (and it’s not that early on) it does seem a little sudden. I would think, in a culture as homophobic as the Mormons, that both guys would be mega-wary of expressing feelings for each other when the consequences for getting it wrong are so high. But there you go, the film couldn’t be three weeks long could it?
The subject matter is handled very delicately, it would have been very easy to make the film sleazy and over-the-top, but it isn’t. The script is fine and the acting and directing is done with a large amount of talent.
What lets the film down is the production quality. I read here that the film was made on a budget of just $7,000, and at times it shows. This is mostly with the sound, it comes and goes and sometimes you can struggle to hear what one of the characters is saying. The image quality also isn’t the greatest. But it doesn’t detract from the story, it’s just that we are getting so used to HD images these days that anything other than HD can look bad in comparison.
Director and writer (and producer) Jon Garcia is definitely one with talent. The film has good direction and he clearly researched the subject matter before filming. There are a few jump cuts that make it feel like a college film at times, but in general it’s well made.
On the whole The Falls is a film worth watching. It will certainly make you think and it will stay with you for a while after watching it; always the sign of a good film
The Falls will be released on DVD in the UK on 14th January 2013, released by Breaking Glass Pictures UK.
Review by Henry Tucker