BEFORE THE FALL”— Re-imagining “Pride and Prejudice”

“Before the Fall”

Re-imagining “Pride and Prejudice”

Amos Lassen

Set in modern day, rural Virginia with Elizabeth Bennet as Ben Bennet (Ethan Sharrett), an affluent but seemingly arrogant attorney who unknowingly insults Lee Darcy (Chase Connor), a detached factory worker wrongly charged with domestic abuse. Both men form an immediate dislike for each other which becomes a significant problem when Ben falls in love with Lee.

Written and directed by Byrum Geisler, “Before the Fall” is a modern adaptation of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”. It is faithfully based on the original with Ben as an affluent lawyer who observes the narrow and conformist society in which he lives through an ironic eye. His arrogance cost him being disliked by Lee Darcy, a posted worker wrongly accused of domestic violence. Even with the mutual loathing that began with their first confrontation, Ben slowly gets to know Darcy and falls in love with him. This turns Ben’s well-ordered life upside down. 

Darcy is a welder with a secret that he tries to forget by drinking. When he roughs up his girlfriend and is charged with domestic abuse, he overhears a derogatory comment made about him in court by Ben. Shortly afterwards, the men inadvertently come face to face and, surprisingly, find common ground when hiking with a group of friends in the beautiful woods nearby. A quiet friendship slowly ensues and this is complicated when Ben discovers that he has a secret of his own – he has fallen in love with Lee. Byrum Geisler’s cinematically gorgeous directorial debut is a heartfelt, deeply satisfying gay romance.

Writer-director Byrum Geisler bends the characters to his will. He also picks up on all the scenic rambling that the British do so well in the various film versions of the book but moves it to Abingdon in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and shot his movie in the fall.

Everybody in Abingdon is into hiking and it is where Ben Bennett practices law and looks for love. His pals complain that “the queens got left out”, but they have each other. They prowl and howl at every eligible unattached man to wander into town.

New attorney George Wickham (Jonathan Horvath) gets Ben’s attention and suggests that he spend the night after the two went on a date. Bingley (Jason Mac) is also new in town, and once we’ve determined he’s straight, he sets off sparks with Ben’s gal-pal Jane (Brandi Price). It’s too bad that he works for a non-profit, with no prospects. Lee Darcy is a miserable factory worker living with Kathy (Carol Marie Rinn) and drinking to hide his secret not only from others but also from himself.

Even with the gay stereotypes , this is something of a fun movie. However, the performances leave a bit to be desired. Nonetheless, this is a great idea and there is a good deal of promise here. It is too bad that it was not fully utilized.

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