›› The Falls
a film by Jon Garcia.
2012 | 89 mins | US.
principal players: Nick Ferrucci / Elder Smith (RJ), Benjamin Farmer / Elder Merrill (Chris), Brian Allard / Rodney, Harold Phillips / Mr Smith, Quinn Allan / Elder Harris, Audrey Walker / Mrs Smith, Kacey Manny / Mary Anne, Barrie Wild / Stake President and Garland Lyons as the Mission President.
Adapted Synopsis: "Raised in Mormon communities, RJ and Chris are poster boys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only to find their devotion to the words of Joseph Smith tested when feelings long thought suppressed begin to surface. As their days of religious contemplation and prayer turn into nights of sexual bonding, can they reconcile The Book of Mormon with the calling of their homosexual heart?"
It's a brave first time writer / director who walks on Mormon ground, given the modern day classic that is C Jay Cox's Latter Days. Yet in knowing that comparisons between the two are but inevitable and here both films open and close with a voiceover, let alone include the requisite gay discovery scene, Jon Garcia has nevertheless succeeded in crafting a remarkably compelling tale of love. Then again, this is a work told refreshingly from a variant narrative angle, as Garcia notably takes time out to focus on the daily life of a Mormon missionary, as the two young men go about knocking on doors in the hope of recruiting new members to the congregation. And it is here that you get a genuine sense of their religious reverence, that is before events of the heart take the devotees in an entirely different direction, even if the central religion v homosexuality conflict is not tackled head-on, somewhat deliberately, until the emotional finale.
Love is not a sin, in The Falls.
Indeed, there's a lot to like in this feature, including scenes of man-on-man lip-service that are delivered with such passion, that the pair appear to be lip-locked with superglue. Yet for all of its pros, a few negatives are also to be found in the micro budget mix, given a number of scenes are just too dark for their own good, whilst the accompanying score clamorously overpowers the dialogue from time to time. Yet this is equally a film that finds Garcia not afraid to preach a sermon himself, here challenging religious doctrine and by way of a delightful performance from Brian Allard as a troubled ex-military man with a big heart, poignantly showcase the post traumatic stress reality of war. Moreover, Garcia does not take sides, opting to "agree to differ" over the scriptural intolerance of homosexuality.
And therein lies the beating heart of the film, that of the forbidden love between the two missionaries and to that end Nick Ferrucci as Elder Smith (RJ) and Benjamin Farmer as Elder Merrill (Chris) do not disappoint, delivering beautifully natural performances throughout, in particular by Ferrucci who pours out his soul to the camera during a moving speech in which he remains totally unapologetic for his feelings for Elder Merrill. True, the sexual chemistry between the boys is not nearly as hot as that of the Latter Day men. Then again, their time together is reflective of the nature of the script, that of a largo styled tempo that gradually builds up to scenes of intense man-on-man lip-service, one where every look, touch and kiss tells a story. All of which makes for a touchingly tender tale of the love shared between two men on a mission with God. Simply heart-warming, even if the ending is but a beginning and here cue the sequel, The Falls: Testament of Love.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.