Drama Falling

Like Father, Unlike Son: A TIFF Review of ‘Falling’

September 13, 2020Ben MK

You can choose your friends and you might able even to choose your children, but you can't choose your biological parents. And as we see in Viggo Mortensen's deeply personal directorial debut, Falling, neither verbal insults nor knock-down-drag-out arguments can truly nullify that blood bond.

A poignant family drama about the tenuous relationship between a parent and their child, the film follows 50-year-old John (Mortensen) and 75-year-old Willis (Lance Henriksen), a gay man and his ultra conservative, right-wing father, who also happens to be suffering from dementia. Unable to mask his prejudices against people of other races, sexual orientations and genders, Willis is hard to tolerate and even harder to love, a quality that no doubt played a role in the failure of his two marriages. Still, that hasn't deterred John, who remains a dutiful son, even volunteering to help his father look for a new home and staying by his bedside as he recovers from surgery.

As the film recounts the history between the pair, however, we begin to see that John's sentiments towards his father haven't always gone unrequited. After all, we're each a reflection of the people that brought us into this world. It's just that some reflections require the right kind of lighting conditions to be seen.

Falling screens under the Special Presentations programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 52 min.

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