STIFF Film Review – On Falling
Have you ever been the only sober person in the room when everyone else is high? And do you notice how fascinating all the stoners find themselves, but how in your sober estimation they get to be deadly dull? Well, that’s the same experience you will have watching the low budget independent film On Falling (2011).
Recently seen at Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival (STIFF), On Falling is a combination road movie and love triangle. Mildred (Bahia Garrigan) is a flighty, flirtatious young lady whose hookup of the moment dumps her by post-coitally letting her know he’s getting married. So, to plan revenge, she talks her shy friend George Wesley, recently home from college, into driving her up the California coast so they can crash the wedding. George Wesley obviously likes Mildred, but is much too reserved to act upon it. Meanwhile, Mildred casually invites Brendan (Thomas Bailey) along for the ride—with whom she has just slept, the night before the trip. Brendan is a married drug dealer who very much wants to go with the flow.
A majority of the film is spent on the road with this threesome. But everyone involved thinks the audience should be endlessly fascinated by watching this douchey group of navelgazers smoke pot and watch their campfire. Long stretches of the movie are devoted to just this activity. Occasionally they start in on discussions that are supposed to be meaningful, but end up with all of the shallowness of a Dixie cup. And while some of this might be interesting in another film, none of these characters are interesting or particularly well acted. Mildred is annoyingly self involved. She constantly talks George Wesley into doing something for her and then actually sleeps with Brendan under his nose. Meanwhile, Brendan is one of those douchey guys constantly wearing a hipster knit hat and is supposed to be a free spirit, but ends up just being a complete bore. And while Nathanial Weiss as George Wesley is supposed to be silently reacting to all of this, he ends up being a dull cypher who the others fully bulldoze over. At one point there is supposed to be an emotional and physical understanding they come to as they all three share a night in the tent together, but even that is not as engaging as the filmmakers want it to be.
Looking at director Peter McEvilley’s credits, it looks like he is a working Hollywood composer who has performed on such film soundtracks as The House Bunny and Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star. But this looks to be his first film directing. Maybe he meant this movie to showcase his music, since long stretches feature songs he’s written. While that may have been the intention, the whole confection comes off feeling like a vanity project.
Imagine if your stoner friends came back from a camping trip with home movies they shot with their digital movie camera. Doesn’t that sound like good viewing?
Final Grade: D+