“Falling”: why is Viggo Mortensen’s film not such a great success?


This is the very first film, as director, of Viggo Mortensen (“The Lord of the Rings”) with himself in the role of a son who takes in his very sick father, in full degeneration played by Lance Henriksen (Alien) . A father / son relationship also letting the portrait of a dual America shine through.

The actors Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in the film "Falling" (2021)
Actors Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in the movie “Falling” (2021) © Caitlin Cronenberg

The film presented by Jérôme Garcin

Two proctologist doctors, John Petersen (Viggo Mortensen) and her husband Eric (Terry Chen), live in California, where they adopted a baby girl. The couple is forced to take in, like an antechamber to the retirement home, Willis, John’s very ill father, who came from rural Ontario because he is both Alzheimer’s and cancer. He enters into what one might call a form of insanity without ceasing to be homophobic, racist, ultra reactionary. This means that cohabitation will not be easy with this old father who belches, insults, delirium …

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Camille Nevers regrets that “the film ends up getting bogged down when it had everything to charm the viewer …”

In Liberation, she writes that “the second part was the plumbing parody of the first”:

CN: “Still, the first part is worth it. I fell from the top. The film is called ‘Falling’, but, really, the first part totally won me over. I was ready to write an almost rave piece and , at the 56th minute, right in the middle of the sequence, with the sister and the rest of the family arriving, I find the scene totally beside it and we say to ourselves that, perhaps, at that moment, there will finally be a click, that the film will pass the second, the third, the fifth, a speed, and no … Instead, we have an old asshole character – to the point that I even wanted to title my paper The asshole soup, but I think it wouldn’t have happened because there’s a whole story about a duck killing a kid in flashbacks. At the end of the 56th minute, there is this kind of scene which silks up with the sister. Everyone sticks around watching this old man pulling out his nonsense. And nothing happens …

Except that we wait, of course, for the scene where, finally, Viggo Mortensen will rebel against the father after many flashbacks. But when that happens, we don’t care a little, it’s already sealed off. It’s a bit as if this was the scene that had to be done, but which falls a bit …

I do not understand why this film gets bogged down at this point when it really had everything to have a charm that Viggo Mortensen has as an actor.

Me, I am for and thoroughly films directed by actors. There are some very beautiful actor films that are perhaps unique and will remain unique. I think he put a lot of himself into it, something very personal, you can feel it, but I don’t understand, at a given moment, this passivity and this repetition which becomes a kind of self-parody, for the second part…”

For Xavier Leherpeur, “it’s psychoanalytic, absolutely heavy…”

“It is in his interest to point out that it is very personal because, on the screen, taken out of context, taken out of the signing of Viggo Mortensen, I do not think that we would have taken a look at this family drama extremely programmatic and very predictable.

It has no interest.

It’s a first film, of course, but I didn’t even get this state of grace. From the first sequence, when the mother brings the child back with shit-rimmed ass and the father watches over him complaining that it stinks, telling the child that he is sorry to have given birth to him because ‘he will die “… and the child does not start crying … There, I said to myself, beware of psychoanalysis with two bullets, pachydermic. The whole film is like that …

It is a kind of time millefeuille à la Kenji Mizoguchi, but without the talent of the Japanese filmmaker.

Every time there is an element in the present, there is a leap in time. For example, we pour a glass of water and hop, immediately, we see the small waterfall that ran behind the house when he was a child and he was playing. At this time of writing, readability, highlighting, it is no longer possible …

He never leaves the spectator free to make his own story. It is psychoanalytic, of an unnamed heaviness.

Viggo Mortensen is not gay, but he has the greatest respect for the LGBT community. But you have to see how he draws us… Obviously, from the morning at breakfast, we make bouquets… Obviously he voted Obama… On Sunday or Saturday, we go as a family to see exhibitions of cubic painters…

It’s benevolent, it’s cautious, it’s clumsy.

The big question is: do we note the intention or do we rate the film? Do we judge the way it is described and filmed? I’m sorry but I find it absolutely heavy… “

For Charlotte Lipinska “the film is not as uninteresting as it seems”

“I am not as severe as my comrades because I find that, ultimately, beyond this extremely conflictual filial relationship, Viggo Mortensen talks about his country. the portrait of an America deeply divided and fractured with the father, it is America homophobic, reactionary, misogynist, it is terrible.

And, on the other, his son, much more progressive, open, liberal, from the California coast.

Between these two parties when dialogue is no longer possible, what do we do? The film keeps asking this question: how do you manage to love someone who doesn’t love you, to maintain a dialogue. Do we respond to violence with violence? The father is extremely verbally abusive. We imply that he was even physically violent in the flashbacks.

Indeed, we are a little embarrassed by the paralysis of the son in front of him, who cannot really answer him. We only want to shake him up and tell him to slap his father. But, at the same time, we feel that there is, in him, a remnant of love that he will seek deep within himself and that he does not know how to respond to this permanent aggressiveness. In that, I find it quite interesting.

Obviously Viggo Mortensen pushes the antagonism sliders a little far in these two poles to show us this division.

It’s not that uninteresting.

As for Lance Henriksen, he is insane. I find it very, very strong “.

If for Eric Neuhoff “the film does not deliver anything new”, he considers that “it is a film to be seen on a weekend with the family”

“It’s a terribly classic movie. It doesn’t have to be an insult, because it’s assumed in the movie.

It’s the brave old-fashioned first film, with a character with whom, in life, you wouldn’t spend five minutes but who, on a screen, makes a formidable character: the old Reac, this old plucked lion who is both pathetic and odious. This is proof that Alzheimer’s disease is an invention since he has not forgotten anything at all: he is homophobic, racist, misogynist …

It is the son who has Alzheimer’s, apparently, he has forgotten everything despite the flashbacks, he forgives everything. But Viggo Mortensen is good enough as this poor son who is beyond disappointment and pain. He doesn’t know what to do anymore. The boat is a little loaded: the old react is played by Lance Henriksen who played in the saga Alien. But, there, he is the monster in the film and we do not save him much.

There are all the expected scenes, with extremely predictable flashbacks. The family meal scene, we’ve seen it a thousand times, but once again, it’s not that bad. It is a film that is quite visible for a weekend with the family, on condition that they get along well and that the father is perhaps already in a hospital to treat his illness “.

The film

🎧 Listen to all the criticisms exchanged about this film on the set of Mask and Feather :

8 mins

“Falling” by Viggo Mortensen

By Jérôme Garcin

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