Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
Considering it comes from a first-time director and screenwriter and boasts a cast of rookies and unknowns, Fall To Grace, a small indie drama set and shot in Austin, Texas, is a commendable effort. Following the stories of three families whose paths intertwine through good life decisions and bad, it’s an ambitious first effort for Mari Marchbanks and while it doesn’t always hit, it does so enough to be worthy of note.
The core of the film centres around an immigrant family from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The father, played with superb depth by Bhagirit Crow, seeks to provide more for his family than the manual labour jobs can provide while his son likewise seeks to improve his fortunes through basketball and is also wooing the girl next door (okay, across the street) who has fallen in with a bad crowd to escape a dysfunctional home life. If this sounds like a situation ripe for melodrama, well it is – but to its credit, Fall To Grace manages to skirt that trap for the most part. It only really stumbles when it overreaches in scope and ends up with half-drawn situations and characters and dangly plot threads. For example the third family in the story – a cop, his daughter and absentee mother – really serves no purpose and adds nothing to the greater whole. Similarly the cast, which otherwise impresses with their quiet realism and naturalism, has difficulty with the more Hollywood moments where they’re given dialogue meant to convey great profundity but instead just comes off hackneyed.
It might sound like I’m daming this film with faint praise but the fact is I was never bored, the heart in the film is genuine and much of the cast sparkles with promise. It continues to make the film festival rounds, picking up awards here and there in the process. Screenings could be hard to come by but if it happens to come ’round your neighbourhood, it’s worth 90 minutes of your time. And don’t let the rather poorly assembled trailer put you off – it’s not a film with money shots or moments that are compelling in bite-sized pieces.
Trailer: Fall To Grace (MOV)
Another big selling point of the film is the soundtrack – it’s loaded down with contributions from Austin and Texas-area indie bands. The score is provided by Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg and former bandmate Travis Weller. There’s a lot of silence in the film, in keeping with its quiet, contemplative mood, but when the music is used it’s done so very effectively. Austin 360 talks to the film’s musical director Eric Zappa, who acted as music supervisor on the film. Have a listen to Centro-Matic’s “Flashes & Cables” which is used as the theme and Shearwater’s “A Hush”, off Winged Life, which is also used to great effect.
And speaking of Shearwater, The Red Alert discusses inspiring films, Palo Santo and solo records in an expansive interview with Meiburg. Shearwater has officially finally 100% confirmed they are playing Lee’s Palace with The Magnolia Electric Co on September 12 so put it on your calendar.
And further on the use of indie music in film and television, The Globe & Mail tells how homegrown television drama Whistler hopes to have an OC effect for Canuck indie bands featured in the show. As I understand it, the show is like Falcon Beach in the snow, Falcon Beach being The O.C.… in WINNIPEG. And people wonder why Canadian television is so bad.
Updates on the follow-ups to a couple of the biggest records of the last few years (at least in my universe). The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard tells MTV that work is beginning on the follow-up to Give Up and Win Butler of The Arcade Fire reports to Chart that their new album is almost complete. No release date for either record has been set.
np – Olivia Tremor Control / Dusk at Cubist Castle