Film Reviews 2020

Bad vibes between father and son

Source: National Observer

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© HanWay Films/Perceval Pictures.
FALLING: Viggo Mortensen's debut as a director is an experience. It's engrossing and emotional, with very good acting performances and filmmaking, but also a bit tiring because it repeats too much. Careful, because what it repeats is an ongoing rant by an old racist father, played with super impact by Lance Henriksen. "You voted for that negro," he says, referring to Obama, in one of his milder comments. Many of the others are absolutely virulent, particularly his rants about gays. His son, played by Mortensen, happens to be one and dutifully absorbs the slurs and deals with the flashes of dementia they come with.

The film tries to understand how the old man came to be so bitter. It smoothly weaves in flashbacks to show son, dad and family, at a couple of different ages. They work a farm, go hunting, argue about smoking in the house and tracking in dirt. Traditional, but brittle, family life. Dad is already a bit aggressive and surly and blames it partially on his dad. The marriage breaks up and he gets worse. That progression isn't detailed enough. Mortensen, who also wrote it, says it is fiction, though he put some memories of his own childhood into the film. It'll resonate with many, even though the father-son break is hard to take and there's little in the way of a resolution. It was filmed mostly just outside of Toronto and except for the two leads, and Laura Linney in a brief role, the actors are Canadian. Terry Chen of Vancouver plays the son's husband and David Cronenberg has fun as a proctologist. 3½ out of 5
Last edited: 22 March 2021 09:56:20