You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘How He Fell in Love’

A young man and an older married woman enter into an enlivening, then problematic, affair in Marc Meyers’ incisive indie relationship drama.

Matt McGorry, Amy Hargreaves, Britne Oldford, Mark Blum, Bobby Moreno, Seth Barrish, Christine Campbell, Katie Paxton. (English dialogue)
Release Date:
Jul 13, 2016

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3339534/

Attending a former girlfriend’s wedding is possibly the least likely way to meet a new flame, but that’s only the first of several unexpected developments to befall a young New Yorker in “How He Fell in Love.” Writer-director Marc Meyers’ first feature since 2010’s “Harvest” uses its initial meet-cute scenario as the jumping-off point for an intimate and incisive portrait of a clandestine affair, and the thorny consequences it begets for all involved. Mature and moving in its navigation of convoluted, conflicting desires, it’s an indie as assured in its silences as it is in its speeches, and should resonate with discerning audiences during its limited theatrical run.

Though Meyers’ handheld cinematography can occasionally become too shaky-cam wobbly, his widescreen framing attunes itself to the the spaces between characters as a means of expressing their waxing and waning closeness. That’s true from the moment 31-year-old Travis (Matt McGorry) ditches his ex’s nuptials and is offered a ride back to New York by 44-year-old Ellen (Amy Hargreaves), who has come to the festivities without her husband Henry (Mark Blum), stuck tending to a sick mother in Florida. Their shoulders just slightly too close for platonic comfort as they ride home, the two strangers share a guarded but instantly relaxed dynamic. It’s thus no surprise when, days later, Travis — in the midst of a rocky patch with current girlfriend Monica (Britne Oldford) — shows up at one of Ellen’s yoga classes.

Before long, Travis and Ellen are going on dates, and then absconding to hotel rooms, and then taking trips to upstate bed and breakfasts. When not capturing their affection in fleeting, penetrating snapshots, Meyers stages their budding love in scenes whose conversations are broken up by natural pauses that do much to enhance the realism of their rapport. His dialogue boasts a similar off-the-cuff artlessness that lends believable weight to their burgeoning passion — which for Travis is merely exciting, and for Ellen seems to function as an enlivening respite from a troubled marriage.

As she eventually reveals to Travis, her husband Henry is in fact in his 60s, and the couple’s age difference, combined with tensions over her inability to have (and his disinterest in adopting) children, are the primary reasons for her openness to this extramarital dalliance. “How He Fell in Love,” however, refuses to simplify its characters or their roiling interior states. As the film gradually shifts its narrative focus away from Travis and toward Ellen, what materializes is a window into one woman’s sudden mid-life crisis, born not from straightforward boredom and aging-related anxiety, but from a messy stew of anger, frustration, fear, regret, self-loathing, and doubt. When, while sharing a bath with Travis, she muses, “Fate is a funny thing,” the comment resounds with heartache over the unlucky combination of forces that have conspired to stymie her shot at motherhood — and to leave her in her present, confused condition.

Confrontations and reconciliations ensue, yet “How He Fell in Love” is shrewd enough to recognize that inapt trysts can ultimately bring clarity to both parties (if only once the affair is over), even as it avoids resolving its drama with unwarranted tidiness. Shot on location in Manhattan, and infused with an authentic sense of the city’s electricity and loneliness (a mood amplified by Jay Lifton’s acoustic guitar-heavy score), “How He Fell in Love” marks Meyers as an astute chronicler of romantic relationships, as well as a gifted director of actors.

In his capable hands, McGorry (ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder”) embodies Travis as a good-hearted man who nonetheless doesn’t quite see the selfishness underscoring his feelings of love. He’s superbly matched by Hargreaves, who — after years of solid supporting work in, among others, “Blue Ruin” and Showtime’s “Homeland” — turns in a quiet, small-scale tour de force. Connecting the dots between Ellen’s giggles at having her neck nuzzled by Travis in a car, and her marital bedroom freak-out opposite Henry, she delivers a performance of naked, nuanced emotion that helps the film pinpoint the friction — epitomized by Ellen wondering aloud if Travis is the same “outside” their meet-ups as he is during them — between the exhilaration of new passion and the more sobering complexity of long-term monogamy.

Film Review: 'How He Fell in Love'

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., July 11, 2016. Running time: 109 MIN.

Production: A Monument Releasing release and presentation of an Ibid Filmworks production. (International sales: Monument Releasing, Brooklyn.) Produced by Jody Girgenti, Marc Meyers. Co-producers, Amanda Warman, Doree Simon.

Crew: Directed, written by Marc Meyers. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Ruben O’Malley; editor, Jamie Kirkpatrick; music, Jay Lifton; original songs, Gambles; costume designer, Michael Bevins; sound (DTS/SDDS/Dolby Digital), Spencer Moore; supervising sound editors, Lewis Goldstein, Tom Ryan; re-recording mixer, Tom Ryan; assistant director, Theodore Schaefer; casting, Stephanie Holbrook.

With: Matt McGorry, Amy Hargreaves, Britne Oldford, Mark Blum, Bobby Moreno, Seth Barrish, Christine Campbell, Katie Paxton. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • Ryan Reynolds Stunt

    Film News Roundup: Ryan Reynolds' Michael Bay Film '6 Underground' Wraps Production

    In today’s film news roundup, shooting has wrapped on Ryan Reynolds’ “6 Underground,” BAFTA LA names new board members, and the WGA East honors longtime exec Randall Jasta.  PRODUCTION More Reviews Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway' Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical Michael Bay’s Ryan Reynolds-starrer “6 Underground” has wrapped production. Netflix and Skydance Media completed [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway'

    Hope you like the 69-year-old version of Bruce Springsteen’s face, because it’s virtually all you’re going to see for the two hours and 40 minutes of the filmed “Springsteen on Broadway” — other than the bare brick wall of the theater casting a dim glow in the background beyond those gray sideburns, and two songs’ [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Vice' Lead 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Nominees

    The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced their nominees for the 8th annual AACTA International Awards on Tuesday. “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” lead the pack, with five and four nominations respectively. The two leading films compete with “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Roma” for best film, while Nicole Kidman becomes the [...]

  • China's Government Orders Talent Home to

    After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

    China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible [...]

  • Fotosintesis Readies Mexico-U.S. Immigration Animated Feature

    Fotosintesis Readies Immigration Animated Feature ‘Beast’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Mexico City-based Fotosintesis Media, a joint initiative of Mexico’s Mantarraya Group and writer-director Miguel Angel Uriegas, is moving into pre-production this January on “Beast,” the third Mexican animated feature from the cause-driven entertainment label. News of the move comes as Uriegas presents at Ventana Sur’s Animation! forum 15 minutes of work in [...]

  • Scott Derrickson

    'Doctor Strange' Director Scott Derrickson to Return for Sequel

    “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson has signed up for Disney-Marvel’s sequel. The studio, which had no comment, is about to start searching for a writer. Derrickson co-wrote the 2016 original with C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts. More Reviews Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway' Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical Benedict Cumberbatch is expected to [...]

  • Roma

    'Roma' Keeps Adding Theaters in Mexico

    “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal coming-of-age drama, is also a love letter to Mexico City. The sprawling metropolis — its cobblestoned streets, fading movie palaces, and lush parks — is practically a central character in the story of a family grappling with love and loss. Perhaps that’s the reason that “Roma” has been passionately embraced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content