Carol Morley’s The Falling constructs some interesting ideas. Although the path the film takes may not be fully satisfying, the unease generated by The Falling is engaging throughout.
At a girl’s school in the late 1960s, troubled Lydia is best friends with magnetic Abbie. When a tragedy occurs at the school, a mysterious fainting epidemic breaks out amongst the teenage girls…
Written and directed by Carol Morley, The Falling is an atmospheric mystery drama. The mystery that the film is premised on is effective in engaging the viewer’s attention. The idea of contagious fainting is an intriguing one. The film hints at different causes for this phenomena as the story progresses. This aspect of The Falling works well thanks to this theme; it is an area which has not been explored in much detail in cinema.
In the second half of the film, the narrative eschews more mysterious elements of the plot to concentrate on Lydia’s feelings and behaviour. Although The Falling still holds the attention, it is not quite as enthralling as what has appeared before. The finale reveals aspects of the past which have an effect on the present depicted in the film. It provides some sense of closure to the story, whilst keeping the uneasiness of the tone.
The Falling is interspersed with dream or flashback sequences which emphasise the unconscious state. This are in-keeping with the theme of fainting and not being alert. However, these segments also speak about the wider matter of adolescence and being on the cusp on adulthood. Morley’s direction overall produces a stylised picture. Although some aspects of the film verge on the absurd, this seems like a knowing decision rather than an unintentional consequence.
Production design is also good, with the period setting effectively conveyed. Music is utilised in an effective manner, frequently setting the tone of the film. Maisie Williams offers a decent performance as the angsty teenager Lydia. Greta Scacchi and Florence Pugh are well cast.
The Falling is an evocative mystery drama in which Morley plays to her strengths in terms of style, themes, and tone to create an intoxicating air.