Talented Austrian director Barbara Albert's third feature, "Falling," is a well-played, cleanly shot but spectacularly empty tale of five female schoolmates reunited at a teacher's funeral. Dawdling script has none of the rigor and metaphysical depths of her previous "Northern Skirts" and "Free Radicals," and makes no case for spending time with such uninteresting characters, sans any apotheosis.

Talented Austrian director Barbara Albert’s third feature, “Falling,” is a well-played, cleanly shot but spectacularly empty tale of five female schoolmates reunited at a teacher’s funeral. Dawdling script has none of the rigor and metaphysical depths of her previous “Northern Skirts” and “Free Radicals,” and makes no case for spending time with such uninteresting characters, sans any apotheosis. Given’s Albert’s rep, the film will tour fests, but commercially it’s downhill for “Falling.”

Brought together again in their small hometown after 14 years are unemployed and heavily pregnant Nina (singer-thesp Nina Proll), introverted teacher Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr), job-center employee Alex (Ursula Strauss), German-based actress Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits) and sad-faced Nicole (newcomer Gabriela Hegedus), who hooks up with her young daughter, Daphne (Irna Strnad), while on parole from prison. Quintet of early-thirtysomethings hangs out for 24 hours, with minor revelations (two had affairs with the married teacher), some tears and hugging and woolly references to how they’ve lost their political values. The natural Proll and elegant Strauss steal the acting honors, but dramatically this is thin soup.

Falling

Austria

Production

A coop99 filmproduktion production, in association with ORF, ZDF/Arte. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Antonin Svoboda, Martin Gschlacht, Bruno Wagner, Barbara Albert. Directed, written by Barbara Albert.

Crew

Camera (color), Bernhard Keller; editor, Karina Ressler; art director, Katharina Woeppermann; costume designer, Veronika Albert. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 3, 2006. (Also in Toronto Film Festival, Contemporary World Cinema.) Original title: Fallen. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Nina Proll, Birgit Minichmayr, Ursula Strauss, Kathrin Resetarits, Gabriela Hegedus, Ina Strnad, Georg Friedrich, Darina Dujmic, Angelika Niedetzky, Simon Hatzl, Christian Strasser, Erich Knoth, Noemi Fischer.
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