Friday, December 13, 2013

"The Falls: Testament of Love": stronger than its predecessor, as an LDS family is challenged

The sequel “The Falls: Testament of Love” by Jon Garcia, is long (122 minutes) and slow moving, but it is much more powerful than its predecessor.  Sometimes it will take time to present a whole moral universe.  This film needs it.

We find Chris (Benjamin Farmer) and RJ (Nick Ferrucci) five years later (with no visible physical changes), after the two had become intimate as they fell in love when they toured together proselytizing on their quasi-mandatory Mormon missionary assignment.  Chris has “confessed”, gone through “reparative therapy”, and been welcomed back into the church, and finally gotten married (wife played by Hannah Barefoot) in a temple ceremony sealing “eternal marriage”, and had a daughter, in Salt Lake City, near the center of the Mormon Universe.  He works as a huckster for a pharmaceutical company and lives palatially, with a grand piano in the house.  RJ has left the LDS Church, although he privately practices the prayers, found a lover, and started working as a freelance writer and web media producer in Seattle.  His own behavioral code has weakened; we even see him light a first cigarette (boo!)

Both men attend a funeral of an elderly man they had vi sited on the mission and meet.  RJ can’t resist the urge to make an 800 mile trip to Salt Lake and show up at Chris’s house.
For a while, we see Chris’s straight life and get a sense of what religious morality is all about.   With RJ having just shown up at Chris’s house, the baby cries, the mother is attentive, and then Chris is patronizing of her.  He has indeed subjugated his entire psyche, his innermost being and creative impulse, to meeting the demands of his community to raise children through the family, and to love others in the family, by first becoming totally sexually dedicated to one woman.  The film communicates the religious idea that if well-off men are required to make this kind of emotional sacrifice, the world becomes a safer, fairer and more stable place for everyone, even if some people are economically “richer” than others. 
Chris resists RJ’s desire for even conversation at first, but rather suddenly caves in.  Essentially, at a motel, they reignite their old passions (chests seem to matter).  Chris has to realize who he is as does, particularly, his father. The family faces the unthinkable prospect of divorce and existential challenge to the teachings of the church.

 The official site is here  and the DVD was released Dec. 11.  I reviewed a free Vimeo private screener from Breaking Glass Pictures.

The screener appears to have been shot HD digital video, 2.35:1.  Almost all of the activity is indoors; the film seems a bit like a stage play, and powerful.  The previous film was reviewed Feb. 18, 2013. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Salt Lake Temple 

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