Mar 24, 2011

24FPS at LLGFF 2011: Break My Fall

Dir: Kanchi Wichmann
Almost more frustrating than a truly bad film is one that just misses the mark, one you can see the potential in, and yet have to watch as it trips over the hurdles on the way to the finish line. That's what Break My Fall is like.

The film shows us the final stages of the breakdown of the relationship between girlfriends and bandmates Liza (Kat Redstone) and Sally (Sophie Anderson), which seems to have reached a stage where the two have a deep desire to remain together, but fight whenever they are. Things are also complicated by a mutual friend, Vin (Kai Brandon Ly), who earns a living as a rent boy, but has clear designs on Sally.

There are plenty of things to admire in Break My Fall. The script is sharp, and defines its characters clearly and quickly, though it does remain dedicated throughout to making them all (except perhaps Collin Clay Chace's supportive gay friend Jamie) as unsympathetic as possible. The four leading performances are also a strong centre for the film, with Kat Redstone especially impressive as she engages with the most difficult character, one whose mood swings seem near bi-polar. There are some real standout scenes here too; a funny confrontation with a café owner made me wish that the rest of the film had a bit more humour about it, and a supremely awkward band practice after Liza and Sally have fought is both the quietest and the best scene in the film. It's also worth mentioning the excellent, uber-cool, indie soundtrack.

The problem is that while these individual bits are fine, the film just doesn't knit together as a whole. The biggest issue is that it's very hard to really identify with or care about the central relationship. We see nothing of how it was, of the happiness that Liza sometimes speaks of, and so it's hard to care much about the broken state the movie depicts it in, or root for it to get mended. It's also guilty of longueurs, many scenes run much longer than they need to (an endless scene in which Liza goes home with an older butch woman after a night out, for instance) and the last twenty minutes are an extended exercise in redundancy; this film ends with a missed phone call, the following twenty minutes change nothing, add nothing.

Break My Fall ultimately feels like an overextended short film, and that's a shame, because I suspect a 30 minute version would work really well. That said, there's enough going on here that I'll be keeping an eye on, in particular writer/director Wichmann and Kat Redstone, as I suspect that there is much more satisfying work in their future.

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