×
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.

With:
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

  • Aniara review

    Film Review: 'Aniara'

    Each year brings an example or three of purported “thinking person’s science-fiction” films, a category that pretty much embraces anything not centered on monsters or lightsaber battles. These efforts are often more admirable in theory than result, but “Aniara” — the first film drawn from Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s 1956 cycle of 103 [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    It’s been a long year for Marvel fans since the release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the wait is nearly over. The finale to the Infinity Saga is here, and while most diehard fans will know to avoid them for fear of spoilers, early reviews are mostly positive. Last year’s “Infinity War” took home an [...]

  • American Made

    'American Made' Plane Crash Lawsuits End in Settlement

    The producers of the Tom Cruise film “American Made” have settled all litigation surrounding a 2015 plane crash in Colombia that killed two pilots. The settlement resolves pending suits in both California and Georgia. A notice of settlement was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court on Monday. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Film Review: 'Avengers: Endgame'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains mild spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.” The culmination of 10 years and more than twice as many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Avengers: Endgame” promises closure where its predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War,” sowed chaos. That film — which revealed that the cookie-cutter uniformity of all those MCU movies had [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Why a $300 Million Opening Could Be Impossible

    “Avengers: Endgame” is preparing for a staggering debut between $250 million and $268 million in North America alone. Unprecedented anticipation surrounding the Marvel juggernaut has some particularly optimistic box office watchers tossing around even higher numbers, estimating the superhero tentpole could clear nearly $300 million in ticket sales in its first three days. If any film [...]

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Nightmare Alley

    Leonardo DiCaprio in Talks to Star in Guillermo del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Leonardo DiCaprio is in negotiations to star in Fox Searchlight’s “Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water.” Del Toro will direct the pic and co-wrote the script with Kim Morgan. “Nightmare Alley” is being produced and financed by del Toro and J. Miles Dale with TSG Entertainment, with [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck to Star in and Direct World War II Caper 'Ghost Army'

    Ben Affleck will star in and direct the Universal Pictures caper “Ghost Army,” based on the book “The Ghost Army of World War II,” written by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles, as well as the documentary “Ghost Army.” It’s unclear when the movie will go into production as it’s still in development and Affleck is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content