Cut from the NFL at 25, Kyle Bishop finds himself in the perfect position to kick off any number of exciting genre adventures, rather than the tepid daytime-TV melodrama the film offers instead.

Cut from the NFL at 25, the hero of football player-turned-helmer Matthew A. Cherry’s “The Last Fall” finds himself in the perfect position to kick off any number of exciting genre adventures. Kyle Bishop (“Our Family Wedding’s” Lance Gross) is forcibly retired with nothing to his name but sizable debts and a lingering crush on his high-school sweetheart, now a single mom, which suggests everything from heist-movie to romantic-comedy possibilities, rather than the tepid daytime-TV melodrama the film offers instead. It’s a beginner’s mistake, but one that relegates this well-acted but under-conceived all-black ensembler to the ancillary second team.

In an attempt to humanize the experience of professional athletes, Cherry respectfully corrects the idea that all players are millionaires who have it easy, revealing that many never think far enough ahead to plan for the day they are permanently benched. Leading man Gross clearly has charisma, but his character is stuck feeling miserable for himself most of the movie, which mistakenly assumes auds will sympathize. Clumsy production values and too-dark lensing counteract the limited appeal of watching him waffle between finding another team and picking up where life left off.

The Last Fall

Production

A Transparent Filmworks and Outer Stratosphere presentation. Produced by Nikki Love, Scott Hebert. Executive producers, Matthew A. Cherry, Ellis Hobbs, Monique Hobbs, Lance Gross. Co-producer, Monica A. Young. Directed, written by Matthew A. Cherry.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Richard Vialet; editor, Michael Norville, Cherry; music supervisor, R. Michael Thomas; production designer, Gustaf Aspergren; art director, Callie Andreadis; costume designers, Neiman Tate, Paige Michelle. Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Emerging Visions), March 9, 2012. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Harry Lennix, Keith David, Darris Dewitt Henson, Sayeed Shahidi.

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