What does it mean to be moving in with your girlfriend, having a baby on the way, working in an overtly masculine job, and then to discover you’re gay? In Stephan Lacant’s latest film, Free Fall, Marc (Hanno Koffler) is about to find out.
The title of the film pretty much gives us the answer. Upon meeting Kay (Max Reimelt), Marc’s life spirals out of control. All around him disintegrates until, in the final scenes, all he is left with is the truth about himself; and happily the freedom to explore it. There’s something to be said for Lacant’s observation about having the constructs by which we define ourselves being taken away, revealing a purer truer self. Is this not the epiphany to which most of us aspire? It’s true that Marc’s metamorphosis is (quite literally) brutal, but the final analysis, and the great affirming message of this film, is that it’s worth it.
Free Fall is no two-bit love story, it’s a film about self-realisation; Marc’s sexual awakening is merely the catalyst. Through Marc’s eyes Lacant gets the opportunity to challenge some endemic societal norms, of course the target is primarily heteronormative and patriarchal ideals, which are explored through Marc’s parents assertion that the value of Marc’s life is fundamentally realised through being a (heterosexual) father and partner, and Marc’s co-workers’ convictions that to be a man means to not be homosexual. These constructs are something that Marc himself subscribes to, in the beginning at least; separating himself from those perceptions proves to be difficult, leading to instances of alcohol dependency and drug use. This is not aided by Kay, who enters Marc’s life as a lost soul, and ultimately leaves as one; love does not conquer all in this tale. Luckily, in Free Fall, Marc’s journey is not about finding love, but finding independence.
The interplay between independence and dependence acts as the motor of this film, and Lacant is largely successful in exploring this theme in a way that’s both thought provoking and satisfying. The biggest weakness here is the script; the dialogue is largely unimaginative, which sadly, despite solid performances, leaves Koffler and Reimelt the unenviable task of adding character to roles that fundamentally have little substance. This leads to the central relationship becoming less interesting than the interplay between Marc and his partner Bettina (Katharina Schüttler) as their relationship breaks down in a finely observed and emotionally wrought slow-burn subplot. I think on balance, the main difficulty is that in Free Fall, Lacant has so much to say (comments on relationships, parents, prejudice, discrimination, masculinity etc.) that it leaves little room for the characters to reach a fully realised complexity; this is an example, as with many films, of the story dragging the characters along rather than the characters propelling the story. However, with all that said, overall Free Fall is a film that stands above the milieu of most LGBT cinema. The passion behind the project is evident, and it’s execution, despite some technical flaws, is robust and is highly recommended by yours truly.
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