Carol Morley’s follow up to her inspired hybrid documentary Dreams of a Life is an engrossing drama about an outbreak of mass fainting at an English girl’s school in the late 1960s. Maisie Williams plays Lydia, an aspirant, clever young woman who has a difficult relationship with her agoraphobic mother (Maxine Peake) and an intense one with her best friend Abbie (a striking performance from newcomer Florence Pugh). Abbie is the more provocative and sexually curious of the two girls, which leads to some conflict between them and then to a tragic catastrophe which provokes the fainting, which spreads through the school like a contagion.
The Falling has been compared to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999) and to Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), though, aided by Tracy Thorn’s aching soundtrack, Agnes Godard’s stunning cinematography and the exceptional cast, Morley has created something enigmatic, daring and truly distinctive. (Notes by Michael Hayden.)
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