Free Fall is the kind of movie you have to be in the right mood for. It’s desperate, intense, honest and raw. What I’m mostly referring to, though, is that it’s in German, so unless you’re fluent you’re going to need to be able to sit down and follow along with the subtitles. No multitasking here! It’s probably a good thing, though, because the real strength of Free Fall is in its lead actors. It’s the sort of thing you’d miss if you were flicking between Netflix and Facebook.
So what’s it about?
Marc is a police officer taking part in some mandatory training, and he’s not doing too well at it. He’s a very frustrated person, and it shows. Despite his disposition, he manages to befriend and get close to another trainee, Kay – which would be fine, except for heavily pregnant girlfriend Bettina who’s waiting at home.
It’s been compared to Brokeback Mountain – and I know that’s common with gay movies, if only because Brokeback Mountain is one of the only reference points for some commenters, but in this case it’s not actually an unreasonable comparison. It shares similar tones of frustration, desepration and repression, and much like Brokeback it communicates as much in its silences as it does in its dialogue.
I don’t know that I’d go as far as calling it derivative, but I think it’s fair to say it’s very obviously drawn some inspiration from it – and that’s fair enough. Ang Lee did an incredible job with that movie, and every muse comes from somewhere. Besides, Stephan Lacant did a great job with this as its spiritual successor. If you couple the two movies into a set, it does give off a slightly disheartening message that fifty years have passed and people are still forced to bury themselves away – still get stuck on the same obstacles.
Where it does fall short against Brokeback is in its limited female cast. Granted, it’s a movie about two men in love, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t missed opportunties. For example, it seems to have a contemporary setting, but as far as I remember its extensive cast of police officers is all male. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) The only female character I recall being given any breathing room is girlfriend Bettina – and for the record, Katharina Schüttler does a stellar job. If I remember rightly, it’s an all-white cast. There were also some question marks for me regarding consent that I expected to be addressed, but never were.
If you’re looking for something to cheer you up, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for an interesting, honest take on buried queer feelings, inertia and infidelity then – well. That’s a pretty specific hunt, but I think we’ve found your piece.