Saturday, September 18, 2010

Before The Fall (2008)

(Spoilers are ahead. I talk about the ending so don't say I didn't warn you)

I saw this on IFC's In Theaters service, though I know the DVD is out here in the US.

With only four days left before a meteor is to crash into the earth, the governments of the world inform the populations of the world. As panic and prayer ensue one man tries to make peace with himself, the world, and his family. Unfortunately a serial killer has gotten out of prison and made his way to the family's house in the country. Forced through circumstance our hero must now protect his brother's children before the meteor kills everyone on the face of the earth.

Talk about damned if you do damned if you don't. This is not a particularly happy movie. They basically tell you at the start that there is no hope, so the question is do you lay down and go now, or fight until the last possible minute? Thematically this is the life of anyone who ever has been told they are going to die and decided to fight to the bitter end. I'm not sure we need a film this bleak to lay it out for us.

Actually I'm not sure what to think of this film. It's two excellent films; first, an end of the world tale beautifully made and nicely well modulated, more so since the whole notion of the adults knowing what's coming and the kids not adds a nice shading to the tale. At the same time the serial killer story is well done and scary, with some nicely nasty turns. The problem is that in the process of shoehorning them together both stories are kind of undone. The meditative nature of the end of the world tale (which I should say kind of reminds me of Andre Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice) gets lost when faced with the serial killer. The serial killer plot, while very tense, is short circuited by knowing beating him doesn't matter. I have no doubt that should something like a meteor threaten the earth something like this could happen, but at the same time watching it kind of seems pointless. If the film could have somehow made the two parts work together better this might have been a great film. As it stands it's a good film that's too bleak to contemplate, and too fractured to feel satisfying.

Worth a try, but you'll know where it's going from the outset so don't say I didn't warn you.

I'd give it 6 out of 10 because of its fractious nature. The pieces are actually much higher than that.

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