Thursday, 30 April 2015
The Falling (4½ Stars)
To be free you must be conscious.
This film has a surreal dream-like quality. It's not terrifying enough to be a nightmare, but it's not pleasant enough to be a good dream.
The story takes place in a girls' school in the late 1960's. The location isn't specified, it could be anywhere in central England, but it was actually filmed near Oxford. Abbie and Lydia are two girls in the fifth form (ages 15 to 16). They're more than friends, there's a budding lesbian relationship between them, and they swear they'll love one another forever. This relationship is disturbed when Abbie loses her virginity on the back seat of a car with Lydia's brother Kenneth. Worse still, Abbie becomes pregnant from this single act.
Abbie considers having an abortion, but before she has a chance there are complications and she dies. Soon after the funeral an epidemic breaks out in the school. The girls in the school repeatedly faint, and some of them even have convulsions. The headmistress doesn't call a doctor because she thinks the girls are faking it, and she accuses Lydia of being the ringleader. It remains a mystery throughout the film: is the fainting a contagious illness, is it the result of witchcraft, or are the girls really faking?
Despite being written by an English author, Carol Morley, the film follows the tradition of American gothic literature. The girls spend their free time in the woods communing with nature. It would be going too far to call them pagans, but they're aware that there are greater powers at work in nature than they can understand, something in contrast to their Christian education in school.