Attempts at Reconciliation
Homophobia is at the center of actor and director Viggo Mortenson’s “Falling”, a personal film. Lance Henrikson gives an abrasive performance as Willis who is experiencing his last days. His son has to deal with him one last time.
Willis is suffering from dementia and is a racist, sexist, homophobic guy who pushes everyone around him with aggressive slurs and emotional abuse. His son John (Mortensen) has brought him to California, which does not make the old man happy and allows for all kinds of cultural clashes, including ones with John’s husband Eric (Terry Chen). John’s sister (Laura Linney) is notas willing to not take Willis’ bait as her brother does.
The film’s melodrama is repetitive and grueling. We don’t care about Willis with his off-putting hate.It’s a tough film to watch as it all hinges on healing rifts that cannot be healed. Willis is one of the most unlikable patriarch’s ever and it is frustrating watching him bulldoze his way through everyone’s life as they constantly turn the other cheek. This is a film that’s hard to relate to unless you’ve had the distinct misfortune of suffering through a relationship with someone similar.
Divided between Mortensen and his older dad’s fractured relationship and scenes showing Henriksen as a young man (Sverrir Gudnason) and his tortured relationship with his wife (Hannah Gross) and kids. You never really get a sense of what’s made him such a horrible man, other than the fact that he assumes anyone with even the slightest sense of agency either seeks to dominate him or betray him. This is aggravated later by the fact that his son has no choice but to take over his life as his health begins to fail.
We are voyeurs, watching horrible family dysfunction without it ever really amounting to much, other than the fact that there’s some grace to forgiveness even if its undeserved.