“THE FALLS: COVENANT OF GRACE”
Chris and RJ
It is really good news that we have a new (the third) installment in the LGBT film series “The Falls”. We first met Chris Merrill (Benjamin Farmer) and RJ Smith (Nick Ferrucci), two young Mormon missionaries seven years ago when they fell in love with each other on their mission. They tried very hard to make their relationship work but the Church of the Latter Day Saints and their parents would have none of it. Chris was also greatly apprehensive about this as well and they have not been able to build a life together. We are all very aware of the Mormon attitude of homosexuality and the two young men’s religion played heavily into who they are and how they live.
In “The Falls: Covenant of Grace”, it is one year after the events of “The Falls: Testament of Love” in which the Mormon Church went against the baptism of children of same-sex couples. RJ calls Chris to talk about how he feels about this. Putting their own feelings for each other on the side (or did they?), the two agree to meet in Portland for a weekend to address their Mormon faith, and discuss their relationship. They realize that they must decide whether to go their separate ways, or try to build a life together even with the disapproval of the Mormon church, and their family members. The burning question seems to be whether faith can play a role in their lives even though that faith says that it wants nothing to do with them. They are aware that the choice that they make is one between God and love.
Chris had already seen his marriage fall apart and he has remained active in the church and lives in Salt Lake City with his young daughter Kaylee. RJ has moved to Portland and has become a successful writer. They are both aware of their strong feelings for each other but they are both shocked to learn that the church has announced a against baptisms for children of same sex couples. They are divided about how to handle the announcement, and what it means for their relationship and their faith. RJ still has faith but it is clear that he would rather just be done with the Church, but Chris is not ready to let it go. After that intense weekend together, Chris goes home and their relationship remains unresolved. Then when Chris’ mother unexpectedly dies, RJ rushes to Salt Lake City and be there for him. During the visit, Chris’ father, Noah, Merrill, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a man who has strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships, has a change of heart.
Director Jon Garcia has once again given us a sensitive and beautiful love story and it closes the trilogy (which I find to be quite sad as I grew to love the characters and hoped to be seeing more of them). But then again there is really nowhere else this story could go and with its end, we are left satisfied and happy.
Director Garcia has stated, “The fact that The Falls became a trilogy at all is a surprise to even me, and even more surprising was the innate need I had to finish it”, said director Jon Garcia. “Though I’m a little sad I’ll never work on another one of these movies, I think collectively, we found the right way to bring this story to a fitting close.”