Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"When a Man Falls" he doesn't always get back up

When a man falls down in life, is it over, or should he (in a finite world) have another chance?

The 2007 Sundance Institute film by Ryan Eslinger, “When a Man Falls in the Forest”, perhaps provides an existential dramatization of that question, as four “failed” people in a snowy city (Toronto), just before the holidays, interact and stumble.

In the beginning, a blue-collar (literally) building janitor Bill (Dylan Baker) enjoys opera (Catalini’s “La Wally”, not credited) as he works at night, and tries to rest days in his apartment to motivational tapes that teach lucid dreaming.  This potential get carried far enough that he dreams vividly about an earthquake with a heroic skyscraper rescue. (Was Christopher Nolan familiar with this film before he made "Inception"?)

A coworker Gary (Timothy Hutton) is agoraphobic (but watches a video of a 60s balloon ride to get over it) and has to deal with his kleptomaniac wife (Sharon Stone).  Another coworker Travis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) had bullied Bill (because of his apparent autism) in high school and is trying to make amends. 

Gary has a brilliant son (David Williams) who is finishing advanced calculus before college.
The characters seem to stumble for the first seventy minutes of the film (in one scene, Bill’s legs collapse under him literally in an elevator and is picked up by coworkers), but then a tragedy happens to Gary.   As a bystanding shopper in a convenience store, he hesitates to give an armed robber his wallet and is shot dead instantly and brutally.  He falls, gone, because his life was taken from him by force, perhaps to serve another man’s survival needs.   The son will ask Travis what his father had been like before marriage, because he couldn’t conceive of his dad as a single man, without mom (a relationship).  Yet, he fell.

This is a somewhat unpleasant film, perhaps, and only moderately popular with viewers.   But perhaps it makes us ponder our place in life, how it depends on fortune, and our willingness to connect with others (and keep those connections) on terms not always of our own choosing.

The (DGC) film (from Rigel and Insight Film) was distributed by Screen Media.

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