RJ (Nick Ferrucci) is a high school athlete who’s now out of education and keen to take on missionary work, spreading the word of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of The Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons). It’s something many thousands of young Mormons do, so RJ heads away from home and gets paired with Chris (Ben Farmer).
Together they are tasked with going out and spreading the word, trying to get as many people interested in their religion as possible, with the hope the newcomers will eventually be baptised as Mormons. Although they initially take to their task with fervour, Chris soon begins to flag and doubt whether they’re doing the right thing. Slowly the two young men fall for one another – something that’s particularly difficult in their church, which is deeply homophobic.
It’s difficult not to compare The Falls to gay fave Latter Days, another film about a young Mormon on a mission who has to accept the fact that he likes boys more than girls. However while the plots are fairly similar, the tone is much different. Latter Days is very much a rom-com, while The Falls is more a drama (with moments of humour). Latter Days is probably the more successful film overall, but The Falls is no slouch, and despite a few issues it manages to pull you into these young men’s journey.
It’s a film that takes quite a while to get going, which is both a benefit and a detriment. It allows the film to spend some time introducing us to what it is to be a young Mormon, keen to do your duty to your church and yet still with all the confusion, thoughts and feelings of other young people. However it’s a little meandering initially, so that the motivations behind the characters aren’t always clear and it’s occasionally difficult to work out what it’s trying to say.
It’s a particular problem when the two young men get it together, as while not directly addressed, we’re aware of the issues surrounding what they’re about to embark on and how difficult it will be if it’s discovered. However the boys don’t really tackle this while it’s happening, which feels a bit like a missed opportunity and as if the movie is jumping over one of the big issues it seems like it’s been trying to raise. It comes back strong on this at the end, but it does lessen the impact of the first stages of the relationship.
This problem is perhaps part of the film’s desire to be respectful to Mormonism even while it strongly disagrees with its stance on homosexuality. Even so, it would have been nice if it had managed to more fully meld into the movie the conflict between what the men’s faith gives them and the reality of their sexuality. Both are talked about but it’s only at the very end they’re dealt with straight on and brought together.
But despite the flaws it’s still a film that works, thanks to committed performances from Ben Farmer and Nick Ferrucci as Chris and RJ, and the fact that the core of the story shines through. There are a few of the usual issues with micro-budget movies, such as very occasional audio issues and a sometimes rather dark picture, but these aren’t too much of a problem and don’t really hurt this intriguing, sometimes moving flick.
Overall Verdict: The Falls is worth a look, telling an interesting story, which might have benefited from a bit of a script polish, but still makes for an entertaining and sometimes moving film.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac