TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘The Falls’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 14, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘The Falls’

The Falls basically shows how divorce and COVID isolation triggered the breakdown of a Taiwanese working mom. That mom, Ping-wen (Alyssa Chia), occasionally disappears from the camera. This means that viewers are watching her daughter Xiao Jing (Gingle Wang) deal with the fallout. And to a lesser extent, her re-married ex-husband helps out. In fairness to the film, it’s not all COVID’s fault.

COVID aside, the best thing anyone can say about this film is that it parallels some adult children’s relationships with their neuro atypical parents. There are scenes where Xiao Jing learns about how Ping-wen has let a lot of things go by the wayside. And cinema during this time can still have constraints yet show characters going through every emotion and revelation.

We then begin to see logical inconsistencies in the plot. Part of its depiction of Ping-wen’s recovery in the busy, demanding, expensive city of Taipei is for her to let go of her corporate job. To work in retail. Oh that’s great. The best thing for a woman recovering from a mental breakdown is to have a job where people yell at her.

Chia and Wang are good both in their separate scenes and together, but I wish the film’s elements framed their characters’ stories better. The score adds to the film’s tonal inconsistencies, framing Ping-wen’s recovery and relapses as quirks. There are even moments when it feels like a thriller which, in this case, feels like an offensive way to depict neuro atypical people.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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