Thursday, August 11, 2022

‘Fall’ scales thrill-ride heights

  We go to some movies because of who’s in them. Other movies attract us because we’re fascinated by the stories they tell. Sometimes we're bored or just willing to take a chance. At other times, a favorite director draws attention.
   Then there are movies that, despite deficiencies, are built around an ingredient so compelling, they're difficult to to resist. I’d put Fall in this latter category. It’s a movie in which dumb behavior by two characters leads to sequences as riveting as anything you’ll see this summer. 
   It’s necessary at this point to say that those made uneasy by heights may find Fall excruciating — in a good way, I suppose.
   Here’s the deal: Distraught over her husband’s death in a climbing accident,  Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) tries to drown her grief with alcohol. 
   A year passes before Becky's climbing pal Hunter (Virginia Gardner) turns up. Hunter insists that if Becky doesn't climb again, she'll always be dominated by fear.
     Hunter proposes that the two tackle a decaying 2,000-foot TV tower that looks entirely misplaced in the middle of the California desert, a relic of another time. 
     Initially reluctant, Becky agrees to make the climb. When the ladder used in the ascent collapses, Becky and Hunter are stranded on top of the tower with no way down.
     The climbers try to use their ingenuity to figure out how they might summon help as the screenplay reveals a source of tension between the two women and adds splashes of backstory.
     Director Scott Mann and cinematographer MacGregor do the rest, creating one harrowing bit after another, all of them stomach-churning if heights aren’t your thing — and they’re definitely not mine.
     The two actresses are well cast. Currey conveys the fear that has stunted Becky's climbing career -- and her life, as well. Gardner imbues Hunter with a sense of bravado that pushes her toward extreme physical feats that she treats as fodder for her on-line presence.
     The movie concludes a bit summarily but the ending came as a relief — not because Fall disappoints but because I was happy to leave that damn tower to the vultures that sometimes circle it.

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