Directed by: Sy Huq
Written by: Sy Huq
From the very first frame of Things That Fall, it’s clear what the film is about, and more importantly: why it was made.
“1 in 100 people experience auditory hallucinations. Few rarely admit to hearing voices, fearing a perceived stigma behind it” is plastered in text form across the very first frame.
Sterling Beaumon plays Alex, a student who suffers from auditory hallucinations affecting both his professional and personal life. It’s not until he meets Carly (Stephanie Nogueras), a fellow student who is deaf that he begins to see beyond just his illness.
The best thing about the film is the sound; every sound you hear serves a purpose. Mark Petrie’s original score is both hypnotic and vigorous. Our protagonist, Alex, having to drown out the world using headphones is a running plot device used throughout the film and a perfect example of how best to use diegetic sound to extend the narrative and set the tone of a sequence. The dialogue is subtle, but used shrewdly and sparingly because it’s not a necessity. And the first three minutes demonstrates great ability to edit sound to the screen: a culmination of off and on-screen dialogue, and composed and diegetic sound combine effectively to create a genuinely tense, perfectly-edited sequence.
That isn’t to say, there’s nothing else great about the film. There is. Most notably, the performances of the two leads, Beaumon and Nogueras. Beaumon, wearing nothing but the expressions in his face does a fine job in convincing the audience he is suffering and in pain. Whilst Nogueras is subtle, yet profound in her role as the empathetic Carly. There’s even a timely comical intervention toward the end of the film courtesy of a librarian played by Valeri Ross.
The end of the film started to fall down the romcom rabbit-hole with conventions and clichés of the genre that felt tonally inconsistent and unnecessary to the film. Things That Fall didn’t need to be a love story. But except for that, it’s clear that Sy Huq trusts the audience to emotionally engage with the film, thanks in large part to his effective direction. What makes Things that Fall work is that it doesn’t neglect its responsibilities as either a film or a mental health awareness advertisement, and realises they’re equally important. It could have quite easily felt exploitative. It didn’t. It could have been reminiscent of an NHS advert. It wasn’t. Instead, it felt like talented filmmakers studying subject matter that is important to them.