Director: Stephen Lacant
Starring: Hanno Koffler, Max Riemelt, Katharina Schüttler
Release Date: January 31st
As the LGBT lifestyle and culture has become more socially acceptable in today’s world, films concerning the dilemmas and lives of gay, lesbian and trans* people are becoming more prevalent. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of The Kids Are All Right and Milk, while the Palme d’Or winning Blue Is The Warmest Colour was one of the most talked about films of last year.
Now, German writer/director Stephen Lacant adds to this sub-genre with his debut full-length feature, Free Fall. His film may not reach the heights of the aforementioned, but it’s still an involving and sincere drama about coming to terms with the true nature of one’s sexuality and the internal crisis that can ensue.
Free Fall follows Marc Borgmann, played by an eminently watchable Hanno Koffler. Borgmann is a man whose future seems to be already laid out for him, a future he thinks he wants. He has a loving, heavily pregnant wife, good friends, a new home with his parents as neighbours and, like his father before him, a promising career with the police.
Borgmann’s world is, however, turned upside-down when he begins to have strong feelings for his male academy roommate Kay Engel (Max Riemelt). When these feelings are reciprocated by Engel, an affair begins to blossom between the two men and as Borgmann tries to hide it, his seemingly stable life starts to unravel before his own eyes and he is forced to make a choice.
The film has been hailed as the German Brokeback Mountain and it’s hard not to see the obvious comparison to Ang Lee’s superior Oscar-winning drama. Both Koffler and Riemelt give very committed performances that make for a believable couple in the more intimate scenes. Katharina Schüttler is also particularly effective as Borgmann’s wronged and suspecting wife.
It is, however, on Koffler’s shoulders that the film primarily rests and he thrives as Borgmann experiences a torrent of emotions while dealing with the testosterone fuelled world of the academy, his very traditional parents, and trying to come to a decision that will hurt the least amount of people.
Interstingly, the narrative never confirms that Borgmann is exclusively attracted to men, challenging the notion that there is only straight or gay and nothing in between.
Some closure for the protagonist only comes in very closing moments, as for the first time in the film Borgmann is able to breathe easy while jogging. For the first time in his life, he is free to explore his sexuality and find himself away from the pressures of his wife, parents and even Engel.
In A Nutshell: Although not the freshest of material, Free Fall is nonetheless thought-provoking, ultimately touching and elevated by its performances.