By Mr. Will Wong
Filmed right here in Toronto and also just premiering at TIFF ’20, Viggo Mortensen makes his directorial debut, while also starring in self-penned FALLING. Full disclosure, this is not an easy film to watch, but it is not without its merit as Mortensen tackles some very heavy subject matter.
FALLING centers on John (Mortensen) and his father Willis (Lance Henriksen) and their challenging relationship. John and his husband Eric (Terry Chen) have built a content life together in California, but with both Willis‘ mental and physical health deteriorating, John must tend to his father. It is John‘s hope that his father will relocate closer to him and his sister Sarah (Laura Linney) so they can care for him more easily. Willis‘ arrival at John’s home causes a bit of upheaval in his family’s life. Willis makes his prejudices known and is unrelenting in his abrasiveness, speaking whatever is on his mind, testing just about everyone’s patience and tolerance around him. This being said, he is set in his ways and nothing can change him.
What makes this Film a bit of a struggle to watch is that normally we see one’s journey and progression, but ultimately this is almost two hours of unpleasant, uncomfortable exchange. We would’ve felt a deeper purpose had some sprinkles of humanity come to light in Henriksen‘s Willis. Sadly, this never comes and only then do we realize that this is about a son’s moment after years of pain and hurt, to confront his vile father and seeing him for who he is. However, with this comes a sense of authenticity as things in life sometimes don’t resolve neatly. Henriksen is superb in his commitment, his performance carrying the weight of the Film.
Danish Cinematographer Marcel Zyskind (A Mighty Heart) gives us a gorgeous sense of serenity amidst the messy chaos with his captures, hence while the Film is hard on the ears and soul, it is easy on the eyes.
FALLING is available via Mongrel Media on-demand and digitally Friday, February 5, 2021.