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Monday, April 17, 2017

'The Falls' DVD: Part One of Trilogy Considered Thinking Gay Man's 'Latter Days'




These thoughts regarding the breaking glass pictures DVD release of the 2012 drama "The Falls" continues this series of reviews on the gay-themed art-house films releases by breaking subsidiary QC Cinema and is the first of three posts on the "Falls" trilogy. This three parter will wrap up with covering the December 2016 release of "The Falls: Covenant of Grace."

The following YouTube clip of the "Falls" trailer is a well-presented introduction to the style and themes of the film.


This saga begins with 20 year-old good Mormon boy Elder RJ Smith preparing for the two-year mission that is a rite of passage for Latter Day Saints men of his age. This typically involves living with one or more peers and spending much of your time in the related activities of spreading the word about the Mormon faith and trying to convert new members.

This theme requires sharing the tale of an acquaintance of your not-so-humble reviewer using the promise of eternity in Heaven for both this scribe and his friends and family to join the faith. The immediate response (with no offense intended) was that I surely was covered because a relative or friend must be a Mormon. The conversation abruptly ended on that note.

Smith is assigned to a small town in Oregon to work with the more worldly Elder Chris Merrill. Merrill is a mission veteran and seems to have a good handle on every aspect of their work. One of most unpleasant elements of this is slightly older Elder Harris, who keeps a tight leash on the elders whom he manages.

Both Smith and Merrill are pleasant lads whose long white magic underwear that their faith requires is not the only indication of their previously sheltered lives. Nick Ferrucci and Benjamin Farmer respectively portray Smith and Merrill as unduly polite and quiet post-adolescents who consider just getting to watch mainstream television to be a thrill. They further initially seem to revel in leading a monastic lifestyle complete with pre-breakfast rigorous exercise and frequent praying.

The repression further comes through regarding clear signs of mutual sexual attraction; this begins with Merrill being jealous of a good Mormon girl with whom Smith engages in purely wholesome activity and Smith longingly looking at a dozing Merrill.

Things heat up when Merrill aggressively makes a welcome overt move on Smith; this leads to a physically and emotionally satisfying relationship during their missionary position. The impact of this includes the boys majorly slacking off regarding their work duties and further engaging in debauchery that is common among their less religious peers.

A suspicious Harris does his best to harsh the mellow of the boys. This includes trying to catch them in the midst of activity that one can reasonably interpret as something that the highly repressed Harris would enjoy. More certainty exists regarding Harris replacing the stick up his butt with another object doing him some good.

Enlightened viewers will feel for our boys and be glad that they have a chance to express themselves. Less open-minded folks will view the film as validating the evils of gay love including it being a gateway sin to other abominations. One spoiler is that there do not seem to be any scenes of Smith and Merrill committing the offense of drinking soda.

The next level of analysis revolves around the insight into the Mormon religion in "Falls." We learn the full reason that young Mormon men go on missions, the extent of the rules regarding male-female interaction, and more about the history of the religion, On the other side, a scene in which a non-believer challenges the boys provides detailed information regarding the disreputable side of founder Joseph Smith.

Going deeper, "Falls" illustrates the harm from unduly repressing teens. This further suggests that Mormons should consider replacing these missions with a practice similar to the Amish tradition of rumspringa, which involves young members of that faith experiencing the secular world before fulling committing to a lifetime of Amishness.

All of this makes "Falls" a great gateway "sin" regarding the other two films in the trilogy. You will want to know the extent to which Smith and Merrell reconcile their desires with their religious beliefs and whether their love endures tremendous challenges.