Ever since Shakespeare dipped his quill all those years ago, the concept of love from the wrong side of the tracks has been a favourite plot device. It is this old premise that writer and director Dani Minnick draws upon for her debut film, Falling Like This. Although it may not sound like the most original idea, Minnick has created a low-key gem that, while not without its flaws, presses all the right emotional buttons.
Megan Wilson plays Katie, who falls intensely in love (in the way only teenagers can) with Boyd (Brian Vaughan), the town’s local bad boy who steals cars every night and is a regular visitor to the local prison. As far as plot goes, that’s about it – but this is more of a character study of two young people in love and the consequences of that love.
Vaughan and Wilson make a handsome couple – he has the look of a young Brad Pitt while Wilson bears a slight similarity to Katie Holmes – and both portray the ‘tough but vulnerable’ qualities that are vital to their characters. Vaughan in particular has genuine screen charisma which makes him a talent to watch – some older viewers may feel that at times that Boyd needs a good slap, but teenage girls will be pleased to discover a new pin up.
In fact the performances all round are spot on, with Vaughan and Wilson ably supported by an excellent supporting case – with Patricia Clarkson a particular stand out as Boyd’s laid back mother. Minnick has shot the entire film on a digital hand-held camera, giving a thoroughly naturalistic air to proceedings. Indeed at times it feels like a fly on the wall documentary rather than a film.
There are flaws here though, which mainly relate to plot development. At just over ninety minutes, there’s not much time to explore Boyd and Katie’s characters. We never find out quite why Boyd is so angry at the world, nor why Katie goes along with all his exploits (the fact that Katie joins in quite happily with an ill advised bag snatch scheme rings particularly untrue – especially since Boyd had just been released from prison). An extra half hour added to the running time may have addressed these issues and made for an even better film.
Generally though, Falling Like This is a beautifully observed independent film that deserves to be seen by more people than will get the chance. Aided in no small way by a wonderful soundtrack by Ani DiFranco this film will tug on the heartstrings and leave you thinking about its characters for some time after viewing it.