×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Falls: Testament of Love’

Gay Mormons in love reunite five years on in this plodding sequel to micro-budget indie 'The Falls.'

With:

Nick Ferrucci, Benjamin Farmer, Hannah Barefoot, Bruce Jennings, Mercedes Rose, Thomas Stroppel, Harold Phillips, Keith Swallow, Andrew Bray, Trish Egan.

A sequel to last year’s “The Falls,” returning writer-director Jon Garcia’s “The Falls: Testament of Love” actually jumps forward five years to reunite the two young Mormon men who came out by finding each other in the first film. It’s a most awkward reunion, as one has cut off contact with the other and forced himself into a church-accepted heterosexual life. Once again, understatement is a strength here, but the pic too often seems plodding and undercooked. The first film lost 15 minutes or so between the gay fest circuit and home-format release, something that “Testament” could benefit from as well. It opens on one Los Angeles screen Nov. 8.

“The Falls” ended with 20-year-old protags Chris (Benjamin Farmer) and RJ (Nick Ferrucci) being sent home from their missionary service in Oregon after being discovered in bed together. We soon discover they subsequently went on a long car trip (partly inspired by Rodney, a military veteran they’d befriended while out proselytizing) and planned to spend their future together as a couple after breaking the news to their families. But Chris never returned from that last mission, cutting off all contact with RJ. What’s more, he underwent “reparative therapy” for homosexuality, then married Emily (Hannah Barefoot), with whom he now has a 3-year-old daughter.

RJ, too, has tried to move on, now in a serious relationship with Paul (Thomas Stroppel). But he’s never gotten over Chris, and after the two finally see each other again at Rodney’s funeral, RJ impulsively drives from Seattle to Salt Lake City to confront his ex. It doesn’t take long for Chris’ resistance to crumble, causing seismic damage to all parties concerned, including Chris’ variably accepting parents and siblings.

To his credit, Garcia tries to give everyone here a fair shake, refusing to caricature characters as simple homophobes or anything else. Nor does the pic dismiss or downplay religious belief, which its principals maintain even in the face of official LDS Church disapproval. Plotting is always credible, at least until a late moment when RJ decides to cause a semi-public ruckus that makes no sense whatsoever.

But the pacing is so sluggish that individual scenes often feel like awkward dress rehearsals. And while budgetary limitations are no doubt a factor again (the original film cost $7,000), there’s so little attempt at being cinematic that when we get a rare sequence actually driven by visuals rather than dialogue — notably a scene cross-cutting between male physical intimacy and Emily receiving a church honor — the effect is downright jarring. There can be a fine line between deliberately minimalist style and simple lack of technical expertise (or imagination), one that “Testament” discomfitingly straddles throughout. Trimming by as much as half an hour would certainly close the gap between good intentions and too much dead air.

As with the prior pic, the leads are decent, supporting thesps uneven; packaging is adequate. The door is left wide-open for another sequel, with myriad issues left unresolved. Online screener reviewed lacked a final sound mix and end credits, and featured two opening titles: “The Falls II,” and several minutes later “The Falls: Testament of Love.”

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'The Falls: Testament of Love'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2013. Running time: 121 MIN.

Production:

A Breaking Glass release of a QC Cinema presentation of a Breaking Glass and Lake Prods. production. Produced by Jon Garcia. Executive producers, Susan Helfich, Richard Ross, Rodney Washington, Rich Wolff.

Crew:

Directed, written by Jon Garcia. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Christopher Stephens; editor, Garcia; production designer, Emily Kerkstra; sound, Mark Meseroll; assistant director, Lauren Pollock. 

With:

Nick Ferrucci, Benjamin Farmer, Hannah Barefoot, Bruce Jennings, Mercedes Rose, Thomas Stroppel, Harold Phillips, Keith Swallow, Andrew Bray, Trish Egan.

More Film

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content