Monday, August 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 24
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
AVENGERS: ENDGAME
BINGEABLE: A.P. BIO
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: GRACE AND FRANKIE
BINGEABLE: Green Porno
BINGEABLE: RUSSIAN DOLL
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: STREET FOOD
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
CRAWL
DARK PHOENIX
DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD
FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW
GOOD BOYS
HATEWATCH: CHOPPED
HATEWATCH: FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER’S MONSTER, FRANKENSTEIN
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
MA
MIDSOMMAR
ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE HANGOVER
THE LION KING
TOY STORY 4
UNDERRATED: SHUTTER ISLAND
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
UNDERRATED: THE FALLING
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
WILD ROSE
YESTERDAY

UNDERRATED: THE FALLING

PHOTO BY PHOTO COURTESY OF BBC FILMS

UNDERRATED: THE FALLING


Where is it playing?: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Tubi

What's it rated?: Not rated

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

A virus? Witchcraft? Performance art? Nobody quite knows what’s causing a strange fainting epidemic in director Carol Morley’s The Falling, primarily set in a British all-girls’ high school in 1969. The first student to faint is Abbie (Florence Pugh, Midsommar), and she’s followed swiftly by her best friend, Lydia (Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones). The school’s principal, Miss Alvaro (Monica Dolan), initially calls both students out as fakers and condemns these instances as acts of defiance toward her, the school, and authority in general—or at least that’s the way I interpreted their exchanges. Dialogue is minimal, but there are more than enough cold glares to deduce that Alvaro isn’t the biggest fan of the duo.

And I feel like that’s pretty much the whole movie in a nutshell—lots of showing but no telling. But even most of what’s shown is still abstract and up to interpretation. The relationship between Abbie and Lydia, for example, is never concretely defined. Things get complicated between the two after Lydia realizes Abbie has been sleeping with her half-brother, Kenneth (Joe Cole). It’s clear that she’s upset, but we’re not sure if it’s because she’s attracted to Abbie or Kenneth (or both or neither). The scenes that follow hint at all possible conclusions, and we’re left with a puzzle.

There are certain aloof qualities that give the film a detached, Kubrickian demeanor, which will either infuriate viewers or draw them even closer. I’m of the latter crowd, but far from claiming the film is perfect. Some viewers might be put off by the film’s seemingly low stakes. Think Jaws, except the town is cursed with fainting women rather than a shark. That’s not to say the fainting spells don’t result in dire consequences for a character or two (not going to spoil it), but a lot of the fainting scenes lend themselves more to black comedy than psychological drama. The eclectic tone reminded me of other adolescent-driven genre-benders like Donnie Darko and Picnic at Hanging Rock.

I thought revisiting The Falling would provide some clarity on things I may have missed the first time around a few years back. But the film, and a lot of its symbolism, remains just as mysterious to me after seeing it again. If you want the truth, my honest reason for giving it a second watch was for Pugh, after being blown away by her stellar performance in Midsommar. This whole column was just an excuse for me to plug that film without actually reviewing it (Glen and Anna Starkey both gave it “Full Price,” by the way). See both! (102 min.) 

—Caleb Wiseblood




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