Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Film: 'The Falling'

Quite an oddity, this one. It ought to have been more satisfactory than it was.
Set in an English all-girl school at the end of the 1960s, it concerns a contagion of fainting among the mid-teen pupils (plus one of the teachers) after a girl dies, with the friend who seemed to have a bit of a schoolgirl crush on her, seemingly being the centre of this rash of spontaneous passing out - some lying still, some with twitchy fits.

Like 'Madding Crowd', which I wrote about yesterday, this film too has an illustrious predecessor, at least as regards to both being in the general same milieu of a girls school where the pupils are the passive victims of some unexplained goings-on - though 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' was, of course, an Australian film and set several decades earlier. Comparisons quickly run out as the earlier film, now exactly 40 years old and directed by the young Peter Weir, has haunted me ever since the first time I saw it back in 1975, and since then has remained in my list of all-time favourite films. 'The Falling' is not in that class by a long chalk.

One assumes that here, the mysterious 'force'; that is causing the fainting is connected to the girls' burgeoning physical maturity, though that is what one can only assume. There are no clues as to what's at the bottom of it.
The biggest name in the cast, Greta Scacchi, is almost unrecognisable as the chain-smoking headmistress who doesn't let the presence of pupils deter her from lighting up. The only other name I knew was Maxine Peake, likewise a chain-smoker in this, as the withdrawn mother of the girl, Lydia (Maisie Williams), who's believed to be the cause of the commotion. The only other significant male in the cast is Joe Cole as Lydia's brother.

One of the things that marred the film for me was (yet again), over-insistent and loud music in the form of pop-folkish songs on the soundtrack, some being Dylan-esque in a nondescript kind of way. There were far too many of them and in no way did they enhance the mood but, rather, took it down.

I think I know what writer-director Carol Morley was aiming at with this feature, but if I'm right then she didn't achieve it.

I get the sense that there was a better film under the surface but there were too many disparate and distracting layers for it to come across as a memorable item. I'll grudgingly concede that they could have been onto something worthwhile  in my rating of...............5/10.


  1. I think this will have people watching it because of the girl in the top right of the picture being one of the actors in Game of Thrones. I saw her coming out of a dance studio in Bath one day, (bedraggled from working out).

    I think I will wait till it is on the TV. But as always Ray you are so in depth with the visuals and descriptions I will wait for it.

    Hope you are well. I am just getting around to peoples blogs to comment

  2. Sol, I'd heard that Maisie Williams was in 'Thrones', though it's one of many TV progs I've not seen, not being a great telly watcher.
    I don't think it'll lose much by being on TV. There were a few impressive scenes by a lake with a significant tree beside it but they're not key to enjoying the film. They won't help when you're asking yourself "What the hell's going on?", 'cos that's left up in the air.

    I'm fine thanks, as I hope you are. You seem to be. Thanks for what you say about my film blogs, even though it's unjustified..;-)

  3. I want to see this one......i was intrigued when i first heard about it
    Absolutely LOVED madding crowd btw

  4. Do see this one, J.G. I'm interested to hear another take on it. My own lack of enthusiasm is magnified by having such a high opinion of 'Hanging Rock'. Those who haven't seen that 1975 film, or who did see it and didn't share my admiration, could well think higher of 'Falling'.

    Glad you agreed about 'Crowd'. It's a major addition to successfully filmed famed novels.

  5. OOoh! I saw a movie! Avengers! Any chance you will review it?

    1. Actually, was going to give it a miss, Dr Spo. It seems an unlikely choice for you, unless someone (or Someone, though I can't really think that) decided that you ought to see it. SassyBear, perhaps?
      Now you've put me in a quandary. I'll see if I can fit it in but make no promises.

  6. Ray,
    I too don't welcome the over bearing soundtrack which seems to be contagious these days of "thoughtful" films. I find such soundtracks distracting and not at all enhancing the film. BTW, I have "Far From the Maddening Crowd" in my Netflix queue. Thank you!
    How about "Bleak House" with Gillian Anderson? Have you reviewed that movie?

    1. Ron, background music, especially when it's of a type, with which one doesn't have much sympathy, becomes a huge irritation and distraction - though I suppose when it's some music one already knows that can be at least as off-putting.

      I'd expect you to like 'Far From...'. But if you don't that also okay with me.

      The 'Bleak House' you refer to was a TV series of 2005 which I did, actually (and very unusually) watch, though I haven't reviewed any TV in my blog - so far.
      I do recall being disappointed that this particular one omitted completely all the humour of Dickens, of which there's plenty on the written page, and concentrated on the 'bleak' of the title. But that's my general complaint of most Dickens adaptations.
      That said, I did quite like the casting, and Ms Anderson did glow here as she usually does.