Out of nowhere it seemed, a sweet little LGBT love story called The Falls seemed to capture a special place in the hearts of audiences nationwide when it hit home video in 2012. A tender romance centered around two Mormon missionaries named RJ (Nick Ferrucci) and Chris (Benjamin Farmer), The Falls dealt with its religious themes respectfully and with much dignity while also telling a believable and rather wonderful, but ultimately doomed, love story.
While it's not exactly common in the indie world, we're treated to a sequel that picks up five years later as RJ and Chris's lives have taken remarkably different paths. Chris is living in Seattle with a boyfriend (Thomas Stroppel) and writing on LGBT issues, while RJ returned to Salt Lake City and, after some of that "anti-gay" therapy, has gotten back into the good graces of his family and his church and is now married, to Emily (Hannah Barefoot), with a child and a good job in pharmaceutical sales. When the death of a mutual friend leads to their reunion, the two men meet briefly before heading back on their own paths.
With those old feelings triggered, Chris can't just let things go and having returned to Seattle breaks things up with his boyfriend and journeys back to RJ's doorstep unannounced and uninvited. As the old feelings are rekindled, RJ and Chris must once again confront their seemingly impossible love. Will this reunion prove that they are, in fact, fated to be together?
Released to home video by QC Cinema, the LGBT distribution arm of Breaking Glass Pictures, The Falls: Testament of Love contains much of what we loved about the original film, most notably that tender and believable chemistry between RJ and Chris presented in a way that is both emotionally resonant and thought-provoking.
As was true of the original film, The Falls: Testament of Love isn't about paint-by-numbers answers to major life issues. Writer/director Jon Garcia, who also had the same roles with the original film, is smart enough and has enough artistic integrity to know that telling this story demands that respect and insight be offered for all the parties involved. While the original film struggled just a bit in terms of selling both RJ and Chris as actual missionaries, both men have now left that role and we are left to contemplate and work through the issues surrounding love, desire, expectation, faith and family.
Just a few small issues, ya know?
Perhaps it's the benefit of having the key players from your distributor signed on as executive producers (Richard Wolff and Richard Ross), but even some of the tech issues experienced in the original film are not to be found in this production that still runs just a tad too long at a solid two hours. In addition to the terrific performances from Ferrucci and Farmer, Hannah Barefoot is remarkably solid in her supporting role and only a couple of the minor players serve up inconsistent performances.
D.P. Christopher Stephens lenses the film beautifully with an intimacy and gentleness that makes you completely surrender to this love whatever the outcome may be. The same is true for Emily Kerkstra's excellent production design.
The folks at QC Cinema have put together fine packaging for the film including deleted scenes, interviews with the director and cast, and a Q&A from the film's world premiere at the Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. The Falls: Testament of Love is available now on DVD from QC Cinema.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic