×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Busan Film Review: ‘Let Me Fall’

A harrowing look at addiction that stands out amongst an autumn filled with films about junkies and their families.

Director:
Baldvin Z
With:

Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir,  Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir, Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir, Thorsteinn Bachmann,  Sólveig Arnarsdóttir, Sigurbjartus Sturla Atlason, Vikingur Kristjansson, Goi Karlsson. (Icelandic, English dialogue)

2 hours 17 minutes

Let Me Fall” is a harrowing look at addiction that stands out amid an autumn filled with films about junkies and their families. Again touching a domestic nerve as he did with “Life in a Fishbowl,” Icelandic auteur Baldvin Z’s drama tells the story of two teenage girls and their descent into the hellish depths of substance abuse. Like Z’s two previous features, it is strongly acted and sensitively directed. It is also remarkable for its unflinching gaze at the abuses the protagonists suffer to satisfy their habits, and for its compelling cinematic style. “Fall” opened in Reykjavik on Sept. 7, far out-grossing “The Nun” in its first week, and is still going strong.

Like Amazon’s awards-buzz title “Beautiful Boy,” “Let Me Fall” is also based on true stories and considerable research in the addict community. And like “Beautiful Boy,” it unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, cutting between the girls as thrill-hungry teenagers and their lives some 12 years later, when they are both broken adults. But in “Fall,” parents and extended family play a lesser role, although Magnea’s father (Thorsteinn Bachmann) is a sympathetic if ineffectual figure. The focal point is the relationship between the girls and how a betrayal and its repercussions change both their lives.

From the high-octane opening minutes in which 15-year-old Magnea (the mesmerizing Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir, from Z’s TV series “Court 3”), her faster-living friend Stella (Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir) and Stella’s drug-dealing boyfriend Toni (Sigurbjartus Sturla Atlason) rob a man they have conned in an internet sex scam, the film grabs viewers and doesn’t let up for the next two hours. Obviously, it’s a scam that the two others have worked before, but for Magnea, it’s just the beginning. This pleasingly zaftig, innocent-looking, middle-class girl is bored with school and her longtime friends. She’s physically attracted to Stella and willing to try anything the older girl suggests.

Z and his co-screenwriter Birgir Örn Steinarsson aren’t particularly concerned with providing psychological explanations for Magnea’s behavior. We see that her parents are divorced and both her mother and father have new partners and younger children in their homes, but Magnea doesn’t seem unhappy moving from one place to the other. It makes it easier to do what she pleases. And what pleases Magnea most is to skip school and hang out with Stella.

With Stella, Magnea partakes of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and very soon, injectables. She loves the rush, but very quickly gets in over her head. In order to obtain money to pay for their habit, Magnea lets Stella post nude photos of her on a website to lure older, monied men with the promise of sex. Stella’s willingness to pimp out her friend in what they consider an easy game foreshadows a later, more serious act of disloyalty.

As a battered adult, Magnea is played by Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir (virtually unrecognizable from her role in the Sundance award-winner “And Breathe Normally”), struggling to turn tricks to earn enough for her next fix. In contrast, Stella (Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir) has been clean for a number of years and is working as a counselor in a women’s center. When the two finally meet again, their ultimate confrontation triggers a downbeat ending.

With his enthralling widescreen lensing, Johann Mani Johannsson (“Life in a Fishbowl”) brings a grungy lyricism to the early scenes of the film, finding visual matches for the characters’ exhilarating highs without in any way romanticizing them. And over the course of the film, his extreme closeups chart the devastation wrought on the once-healthy faces of the protagonists. Composer Olafur Arnalds (another “Fishbowl” collaborator) contributes an apt score, while Ulfur Teitur Traustason’s intelligent cutting builds up to a powerful showdown.

Busan Film Review: 'Let Me Fall'

Reviewed online, Chicago, Oct. 5, 2018. (In Busan, Toronto film festivals.) Running time: 137 MIN. (Original title: ‘Lof mer ad falla’)

Production:

(Iceland-Finland-Germany) A Kisi release (in Iceland) of an Icelandic Film Co. production ,in co-production with Solar Films, Neutrinos Prods. (Int'l sales: Kisi, Reykjavik.) Producers: Julius Kemp, Ingvar Thordarson. Co-producers: Markus Selin, Jukka Helle, Sophie Mahlo.

Crew:

Director: Baldvin Z. Screenplay: Baldvin Z, Birgir Örn Steinarsson. Camera (color, widescreen), Johann Mani Johannsson. Editor: Ulfur Teitur Traustason. Music: Olafur Arnalds.

With:

Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir,  Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir, Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir, Thorsteinn Bachmann,  Sólveig Arnarsdóttir, Sigurbjartus Sturla Atlason, Vikingur Kristjansson, Goi Karlsson. (Icelandic, English dialogue)

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE More Reviews Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night' TV Review: 'Vanity Fair' Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. More Reviews Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night' TV Review: 'Vanity Fair' Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content