|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Ursula Strauss and
Georg Friedrich in Falling
Directed by Barbara Albert, Austria
Photo Credit: Films Distribution
Barbara Albert's film FALLING charts the reunion of five childhood friends
at the funeral of one of their elementary school teachers. There's a cursory
resemblance to THE BIG CHILL and that film's antecedent, THE RETURN OF
THE SECAUCUS 7, but this film is focused solely on females.
Nina (Nina Proll) is pregnant and unmarried. Brigitte (Birgit Minchmayr)
is a teacher who hasn't lost her idealism. Alex (Ursula Strauss) is a
tightly-wound corporate type. Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits) has fled to
Germany where she has found some success as an actress. Nicole (Gabriela
Hegedüs), who is accompanied by her wiser-than-her-years daughter Daphne
(Ina Strnad), is harboring a big secret that only manifests itself in the third act.
The quintet almost immediately fall back into old patterns of bickering,
jealousy and intimacy. There's much talk about a house they had envisioned
in which they would live together. Over the course of about a day, they
also attend the funeral (and it's later revealed that at least two of them had
had an affair with the deceased) and later the wedding of Nina's ex-boyfriend.
Albert is attempting to address important and "heavy" topics, such
as how we often do not achieve our youthful dreams, and how getting older
can lead to a loss of idealism (political and romantic). The subject matter
may seem almost cliché, and Albert doesn't help matters with the manner
in which she lets the film meander. If it weren't for the fine performances,
FALLING might have proven sleep-inducing.