›› Free Fall - Freier Fall
a film by Stephan Lacant.
2013 | 97 mins | Germany.
principal players: Hanno Koffler / Marc Borgmann, Max Riemelt / Kay Engel, Katharina Schüttler / Bettina Bischoff, Maren Kroymann / Marc's mother Inge, Luis Lamprecht / Marc's father Wolfgang, Oliver Bröcker / Frank Richter, Stephanie Schönfeld / Claudia Richter, Shenja Lacher / Gregor Limpinski, Britta Hammelstein / Britt Rebmann, Attila Borlan / Werner Brandt and Jonathan Müller as the Man in the Club.
Adapted Synopsis: "Against the backdrop of intense physical training, the friendship between police cadets Marc and Kay grows ever closer and in more ways, than one. Drawn to the handsome and charismatic Kay, Marc begins to experience desires that he never knew he had, feelings that intensify as their love for each other deepens."
Described by some as the German version of Brokeback Mountain, frankly, this film by co-writer and director Stephan Lacant lacks the sheer gut-wrenching heartache of the Ang Lee classic ... but then, perhaps that's a good thing.
Not that this is anything other than an emotional tale of woe, as we encounter star-crossed lovers Marc and Kay; both cadets assigned to an nearby police academy, only to end up doing manoeuvres of their own. Yet Marc has a secret that he's keeping close to his chest, one that Kay is set to discover when having purposely had himself transferred to Marc's unit thereafter, is soon to discover that the love of Marc's life is "officially" his heavily pregnant girlfriend Bettina. Torn between his responsibilities to Bettina and his child-to-be, and that of his desires for Kay, Marc finds himself in a love triangle; a classic scenario of a man caught between two lovers, let alone here two sexualities. Only which will he choose? And will anyone be happy come the close of play?
The heart-rending story of one man's refusal to accept his sexual self, in Free Fall.
And I think we all know the answer to the latter. Thankfully before scenes of anguish fill the screen, Lacant crafts a series of remarkably honest moments between the two men, thanks in no small part to Max (Before the Fall) Riemelt who excels as the sexual catalyst of the piece, having brought to the surface feelings that Marc hitherto had either never experienced, or long suppressed. For it's here that Hanno Koffler digs deep into his acting reserves, epitomizing the inner self-loathing of a man desperately trying to come to terms with his sexuality, whilst equally trying to keep everyone he loves happy. It's a situation that's doomed to failure, with Katharina Schüttler as Bettina acutely displaying the suspicions of a woman who knows that something just isn't right in their relationship.
Yet something is missing here folks. Not that this has anything to do with the vibrant work of its players. Rather and with a spoiler warning firmly in place, it's a casualty of the screenplay itself, given this is a drama devoid of the "fight for your man" spirit at the key moment, with Kay having eventually accepted his fate, that of having fallen in love with a man who finds it impossible to accept that he has fallen in love with a man himself; Marc ever keen to proclaim that he's "not gay", until he finds himself lost for words when confronted with the fact by Bettina. Then again, it's no surprise to find Marc refusing to accept his homosexuality, given that the ugly face of sexual prejudice is soon to be seen, bigoted attitudes that and in spite of official policy, find certain members of a police force in urgent need of diversity training. That said, this is nonetheless a beautifully crafted work, with our two lovers frequently seen getting down to some passionate man-on-man lip-service, that is when not casting aside their clothes for the films' requisite shower scenes. Yet this is not an ogle-fest of succulent man-flesh; rather this is the heart-rending story of one man's refusal to accept his sexual self and the dire consequences it has on those he loves. Beautiful, but ultimately tragic goes without saying, even if Lacant does leave you with a ray of light.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.