Directed by Carol Morley
Starring Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake and Florence Pugh
UK DVD & Blu-Ray release 24th August 2015 from Metrodome
1969. Somewhere in the English countryside a group of girls have a lot of growing up to do in the confines of a strict and structured all Girls School. Charismatic and intense Abbie (newcomer Florence Pugh) along with troubled Lydia (Maisie Williams, TV’s Game of Thrones) are the closest of friends. After a tragedy strikes, a mysterious fainting epidemic breaks out threatening the school and the girls friendship.
Director Carol Morley’s last effort, the dreary documentary ‘Dreams Of A Life’ left me cold. With documentaries I can pretty much engage with any topic however weird and wonderful, but Dreams Of A Life (a story of a young women dying in her flat and not being noticed as missing for many years) had me hooked, but the film left me bored. Going into The Falling I was optimistic maybe that director Morley could work better magic with a script and narrative structure rather than talking heads.
Opening shots remind me of the opening shots of (the far superior) Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, where the shot looks like a famous painting. Colourful trees weep into crystal clears rivers with no ripples in sight, with river and trees merging into one. If I could take a screenshot and hang it on my wall, I would certainly do that. Morley goes for the same aesthetic choice and it works well, sucking you into the autumnal nooks and crannies of the girls school.
Whether its 1969 or 2015 people go through the same problems, none more so than the teenager. We have all been one and can understand the problems most go through on film. Having never been a teenage girl I found it a little difficult getting to know the characters. What they were going through as girls I have never been through. The periods and the bodily changes kept me at a distance but not so much where I disengaged completely.
The overall tone of the film is very ethereal, stagy and poetic. The way the script reads (sample line – “Millions of people have babies, and its life and life only”) stagy and the cadence the girls speak in is very play based, with clipped English tones and enunciation. The film almost comes across in parts like a Kate Bush music video with weird body movements and songs.
Over the last few weeks I’ve watched a fair few movies and one thing my ear always picks up on is the soundtrack, whether it be the score or the original songs within a film. The Falling has original music and songs performed by Tracy Thorn, (who hit it big with the 90’s band Everything But The Girl) The songs fit in with the overall tone of the film with the girls even singing some of the songs within the films on instruments such as the xylophone, which is different to see in films.
One thing portrayed that we don’t necessarily all go through is a death in our youth. If you have been lucky enough not to have a loved one or friend pass away when you are young maybe you will feel this film is less resonant, but maybe revisiting this film in the distant future you may get more out of it then rather than now.
I’m happy to say I liked The Falling, thankfully a lot more than director Morley’s last film, Dreams Of A Life, catch it on Amazon Instant/Netflix, which is where I saw it. The running time is sufficient, not feeling too short (which can befall low budget films) or overly long. The acting is strong especially from Maisie Williams, as you would expect after being in an HBO series for 5 seasons. I look forward to what comes from Carol Morley next especially if it is a narrative film rather than a documentary.