For Reel

The Falling (2014)
August 16, 2015, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Carol Morley
2.5 Stars
The FallingIn a scene towards the end of The Falling, a school administrator muses that, “This generation, they think they’re so misunderstood. If they’d any idea what it’s like to be a middle-aged woman, they’d know what misunderstood meant!” before boasting into hysterical laughter. It’s a telling exchange, and one that articulates the dynamic tone that writer/director Carol Morley aspires for by meeting its cynicism with a sense of parody. Set in 1969, the film concerns a strict English girls’ school (skirts may not be more than two inches off the ground when kneeling) where a mysterious fainting epidemic breaks out following a student tragedy. The administrators and faculty begin to speculate that it is put upon by the girls due to a lack of physical evidence for their habit, and yet they are still left with an assembly full of burgeoning women writhing in an orgiastic frenzy before colliding with the ground with a thud. It is quickly understood that there is a relationship between the repressed sexuality of the girls and the fainting spells–the fact that members of the establishment refuse to acknowledge such a pressing issue means that much of the girls’ room chatter involves periods, sex, and relationships (in one scene, a girl describes an orgasm as a “small death”). The film also, as in the aforementioned line delivered by the administrator, suggests a very feminine sense of repression, where even a sexual revolution can’t overtake years of systematic restraint. Compelling as the premise is, Morley’s script involves characters directly speaking their feelings and desires out loud, culminating in frankly embarrassing lines like, “I feel so awake, free, so conscious!” Furthermore, stylistic choices like subliminal rapid-fire images and dreamy sonic compositions (including folk songs and an “alternative orchestra”) have the feel of pretty distractions, with a growing sense that the montages don’t progress the plot, rather dwell in unvarying thought.