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Taking the Fall (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Munro Chambers, Roland Buck III, Katie Gill, Avalon Penrose, Jonathan Dylan King, Chris Sturgeon, Kristin Zimber, Kennedy Marble and the voice of Sara Newton.

Screenplay by Steve Hellmann.

Directed by Josh Marble.

Distributed by Long Board Productions. 102 minutes. Not Rated.

It’s always tough keeping up with your friends after college. That is made exponentially harder when you have gone to prison.

That is the idea behind this surprisingly insightful coming of age movie. Tyler (Munro Chambers) is leaving prison after a six-year-stint for marijuana possession, emerging back into a world where time has moved on, marijuana has been legalized, and he has been out of touch with most of his friends.

Only one of them had really stayed in touch. Justin (Roland Buck III) has been there for his friend, even picking him up from the jail upon his release. Tyler’s old girlfriend Kate (Katie Gill) has also been trying to keep up with Tyler, still having feelings for him, though she has moved on and is engaged to Zachary (Jonathan Dylan King), a self-absorbed narcissist that most of the gang can’t stand.

The other friends aren’t doing much better. Peter (Chris Sturgeon) has a job he hates funded by the father of his clingy new girlfriend. Allison (Avalon Penrose) has a five-year-old daughter, and while she loves the kid, she’s otherwise pretty unmoored.

They decide to have a celebration of Tyler’s return freedom – because who doesn’t have a welcome home from jail party? – in an Airbnb that they have apparently rented from character actor Dylan Baker. (In fairness, they never specified that it was the actor, but at least twice in the script they needlessly namechecked Dylan Baker as the home’s owner, so I’m assuming it must be some kind of nod to the guy.)

Unfortunately, it turns out that Tyler sort of took the fall (hence the title) for the crime to cover for these same friends, so as you may imagine there are going to be some hard feelings over the course of the night.

This may not have been such a good idea.

Taking the Fall is a very small, intimate film. There are only eight characters (with one other voice from the outside world, and of course the unseen character actor whose home they are crashing in…) The first 15 minutes or so – and about the last 10 – only have two characters on screen. The great majority of the action takes place at this one house. The little bit that does not is only in two other settings, the prison parking lot and Justin’s car.

Much like Tyler, the audience is somewhat stuck in this awkward situation, with no place else to go and nothing else to see.

I remember in college, one of my writing professors explaining that stories with limited characters and settings were always the hardest ones to pull off, because you can’t really drift off into other distractions. You must home in on the people and their relationships. The characters must be well-rounded and intriguing because they will be under a spotlight.

Taking the Fall mostly pulls this off pretty well.

Some of the characters – particularly Zachary and Peter – feel a little one-dimensional. But most of them do feel relatable; imperfect but trying. And the relationship between Tyler and Justin – which turns out to be the centerpiece of the story – is warm and realistic.

Sometimes you move past your friends, and sometimes you get left behind by them. It’s the way of the world. Taking the Fall helps to remind us that at times that’s okay. Often it is even for the best.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: May 3, 2021.

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