After The Fall


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

After The Fall
"This is not the action thriller it has been billed as but a slow, smouldering portrait of a man losing his way."

"There is no good or bad, just things people do," says Jason Isaacs' grizzled cop in this downbeat all-American tale. It's hardly a new idea, but this is in part a film about lack of imagination: a film in which cultural as well as economic activity has stalled. In one of those anonymous districts of New Mexico where the recession saw whole towns abandoned, everything speaks of despair, even the swimming pool that once would have been seen as a luxury.

Bill's kids love the pool. They splash and play whilst their mother looks on and everything in Bill's life seems complete. Unfortunately, things are not what they seem; he his recently lost his job and he can't find another. Nor can he face telling his wife. Every day he goes out, searching desperately, willing, he says, to do anything, but no-one has a job to offer him. Then one night he retrieves his long-forgotten gun to put a wounded animal out of its misery, and with the cool steel in his hand he realises that there is still one means by which he might make money fast.

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Deliberately distant and awkward, this is not the action thriller it has been billed as but a slow, smouldering portrait of a man losing his way. Wes Bentley, present in almost every scene, portrays Bill as a man who is not only out of his depth but is refusing to face the reality of his situation at all. He apologises to his victims. "This isn't me," he says, not realising that his uncertainty, his lack of professionalism, is making things all the more frightening for them. Who is he? A family man, perhaps, determined to prove himself as a provider no matter what. Armed robbery is just a means to an end, like working in insurance or real estate. It's not as if he were a banker. It's not as if he were responsible.

Restrained in its handling of the action, the film pushes moral conflict to the fore, gradually exposing the flaws in a plan deliberately not thought through. It's hampered by an overly repetitive score and some viewers may find it too depressing to watch all the way through, longing for something more to happen, but the ease with which Bill carries out his early crimes is part of what makes the story disturbing, and the apparent lack of any imposed justice is what makes it ever harder for him to live with his conscience.

Though it never quite seems to achieve its potential, this is a thoughtful little film that will resonate strongly with the millions whose lives were thrown into similar chaos due to the crash. Its bleak world, in which it only seems possible to rise up by stepping on somebody else, will be all too familiar to many.

Reviewed on: 15 Nov 2014
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After The Fall packshot
After losing his job, an ordinary man resorts to desperate measures in order to provide for his family.

Director: Saar Klein

Writer: Saar Klein, Joe Conway

Starring: Wes Bentley, Vinessa Shaw, Jason Isaacs, Haley Bennett

Year: 2014

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: US


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