Independent dramas are usually quite interesting. In larger productions, you might have to worry with battling egos or the polish of a film taking over the narrative focus, but on the independent scene these films are generally very narrow and concise in what they hope to achieve. That doesn’t mean that independent filmmakers are any more successful than their Oscar-fodder brethren, but if I have to choose one type of production over the other I will usually go with the indie film. Although the acting can be a bit more on the wooden side and the lack of experience can lead to odd choices along the way, you have a better chance of finding something unique. While Fallen Before Falling isn’t likely to jump up your list of greatest films ever made, it is a prime example of filmmakers trying something a bit different and in many ways finding success through that.
The film tells us the story of Anastasia (Cecile Butt), who is a struggling actress trying to find her way back on track. Recently she has been suffering from delusions and visions that have crippled her mentally. She packs up a few of her possessions and decides to travel out to a secluded country town that should provide her with the privacy she craves. She finds a house that she is able to rent for a short period, from a young man that she secretly wishes to have a romance with, and she begins her healing process. Unfortunately for Anastasia, her healing process seems to be making things worse. She finds herself indulging in alcohol and even sneaking men into her home for one-night-stands, to simply fight away the loneliness. Will Anastasia make the adjustments needed to heal her troubled mind, or will she be forever lost in the perils of her own psyche?
Fallen Before Falling is ostensibly a character piece, with actress Cecile Butt thrown into an incredibly difficult role for any actress. She does a good job in working with the material but with so much focus on her character and the mental anguish that she has to endure, it can be a bit much. Similar to a film like Cast Away, where our primary focus is on one character for almost the entire duration of the film, even the secondary characters work as props in order to help further establish the paralyzing mental instability of Anastasia. Although I don’t mean to make little of the secondary cast, nor compare them to the inanimate "Wilson" from Cast Away, but the focus here is entirely on Cecile Butt who has to try and carry the entire project on her shoulders. With that in mind, the young actress does a good job in her role without going too far over the top. The rest of the cast certainly acquit themselves well and separate themselves from being wooden stick figures constructed by the needs of the plot.
Focusing primarily on issues such as loneliness, mental depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and the dangers of closing your mind off only to yourself, the movie really focuses itself on a direct vision. Throughout the feature, we are treated to a running subtitle announcing the day that each scene seems to take place on. The first sequence pops up with the subtitle Day 1, but throughout the feature we jump forward but we never know the determined amount of time is that we are going to spend with this character. The interesting aspect of this subtitle comes when we run into various scenes that apparently take place on "Day ?", where we watch Anastasia completely lose her mind on screen and have haunting discussions with herself and inanimate objects. We are never sure at just what point these scenes take place in, but they instead offer us a glimpse inside of Anastasia’s mind and the depths of her own psychosis. When all seems perfectly fine in the world, these sequences act as a reminder of just what this character is fighting back.
James Dubbeldam does a good job in creating an intriguing tale of insanity and the means in which we all fight it. The film on the whole has a very clean look to it and shows a great amount of professional glean. Dubbeldam shows a lot of promise and does well in crafting his story, from a visual standpoint as well as in the narrative function. I expect to see more from the filmmaker and all involved. I would say it is certainly worth looking into, especially if you are interested in the themes that I have touched on here. You can read more about the movie by visiting the official Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fallen-Before-Falling/141545375895356