“The problem is, people think the party is over after college… they stop trying, stop doing new things…”
The pressures of today’s society can be hell on anyone. Growing up is hard for everyone. Navigating the culture for millennials is a minefield and when one has been gone for a lengthy period, that person may not change but life and society moves on.
The pressure that weighs on Tyler (a quite good Munro Chambers), after returning from a six-year prison sentence, is harder than getting through his period of incarceration.
His best friend Justin (Roland Buck III, endearing and warm) has prepared a coming-home surprise reunion with some of their friends, which Tyler is just not ready for. He wants to get his life back to the normalcy he once knew, yet his friends have moved on in ways he never imagined.
As the party comes together and Tyler is reunited with his old flame Kate (Katie Gill), sincere resentment (and bottled-up anger) comes to the fore. We learn how Tyler was the one who bit the bullet for his friends, as he was the one who was holding close to twenty pounds of marijuana before it was legalized.
Kate still carries real feelings for Tyler but has moved on and is now engaged to a real shit of a man named Zachary played to the smarmy hilt by Jonathan Dylan King.
In one of the film’s best moments, Zachary asks Tyler to come outside with him. As they speak, it becomes clear that he is only interested in marking his territory by letting Tyler know that Kate is with him now, taunting Tyler the whole time by smoking weed in front of him and declaring how ironic it is now that he was locked up for possession and pot has now been legalized.
The film is inherently about distance; the distance from our friends after being away and the distance from our old lives. Life keeps moving. Needs change but inner wants stay the same for many of us.
Over the course of the dinner party, it is shocking for Tyler to see how his friend’s lives have not gone as planned. As he listens to their complaints about work and the daily struggle and not being where they wanted to be, his anger begins to boil.
Tyler’s anger isn’t borne of martyrdom. To see his friends where they are today is like an electric shock. His resentment moves to disgust, as he feels they owe him more because he took the rap. They were supposed to go on to a fruitful future and taking the fall was Tyler’s gallant gesture to them all.
Steve Hellman’s screenplay is beautifully written and examines some relatable issues. There are a few moments where Hellman is too “on the money” with his dialogue (Katie’s speech about taking a job that is beneath her sounds like an ABC Afterschool Special) but it is always sincere.
Hellman’s work is particularly good in many moments and really gets to the heart of missed opportunities and the fading privilege of youth.
Director Joshua Marble crafts his film simply and in an understated way that allows the voice of the piece to be heard through the conversations of its characters and in their actions, right or wrong.
Human beings are fragile. Some can take a tragedy and use it to find strength. Others crumble under the weight of things gone wrong. Some move on. Some stay the same as the world moves on. Not everyone lives up to their potential.
“Taking the Fall” is not all dour. The points it raises are important ones and hit home for many but at its heart, this is a film of friendships and how time decides who our truest companions will be.
By the profoundly beautiful final moment, it becomes a film about hope. And this is the film’s takeaway. Friendships come and go. Bad things happen. Life does not follow the course we set. But hope, inside the strongest of us, can be eternal and exists as something we can carry with us for the rest of our lives.