Director: Scott Hicks
Cast: Addison Timlin, Jeremy Irvine, Harrison Gilbertson, Lola Kirke, Daisy Head, Hermione Corfield, Juliet Aubrey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Malachi Kirby, Joely Richardson
MPAA Rating: (for thematic material, violent images, some sensuality, language and teen partying)
Running Time: 1:31
Release Date: 9/8/17 (limited)
Review by Mark Dujsik | September 7, 2017
We're not finished with supernatural romances aimed at teenagers, apparently. Then again, maybe we are, and Fallen simply didn't get the memo.
The movie, based on the first installment in a series of books by Lauren Kate, gives us a familiar story—about a quiet, socially awkward girl who becomes the romantic object of a pair of guys who constantly lie to her, because they need to protect her from some supernatural world beyond her control and understanding. The world here is one of fallen angels, who refused to take a side in Lucifer's rebellion against Heaven. For their position of celestial centrism, they were punished by being forced to spend an immortal life among humans. There's also something about a curse involving the reincarnated soul of the female protagonist, which is an idea that, to more cynical minds, might come across as a convenient way for someone to keep returning to the well of this concept until it's dry—and then maybe dig up some of the dirt at the bottom.
On the basis of the story of the (in theory) first movie of this series, there doesn't seem to be much from which to draw in the first place. It's mostly about establishing and then repeatedly reestablishing the mythology of the angels, who also never age, giving them the eternal appearance of actors who look just a bit too old to be playing high school students but get cast in the roles anyway.
If I got the movie's indirect way of connecting the actual characters to the myth that keeps being told, the leader of the angels is Cam (Harrison Gilbertson), and if that's right, he was the angel who led the passive rebellion against Lucifer's revolution and the divine alliance of angels in Heaven, because he was in love. Whom did he love? That, apparently, is for a forthcoming chapter, but there's probably a safe bet.
Cam isn't the hero, although he's kind of smitten in that moderate-angel way with Lucinda (Addison Timlin), the new student at a boarding school. The school is located in the middle of nowhere and looks a bit like a cathedral. Although, it might, perhaps, also resemble a place where witches and wizards might get an education on magic or something like that, which is not to say that the material is copying already-established works. It's only to strongly imply the notion.
Lucinda has a dark past, involving the death of a boy from her old school, and she's haunted by smoky shadows that offer views into a distant past that she cannot recall. Daniel (Jeremy Irvine), the final point in the story's love triangle, has more than passing resemblance to a man who's also in those visions. Coincidentally, he spends his time making sketches of her in Victorian garb, in between bouts of getting uncomfortably close to her before running away in a flash of light.
I have, unintentionally, given away perhaps too much of the plot, but to be fair, there isn't much of a plot to give away in the first place. The screenplay by Michael Arlen Ross, Kathryn Price, and Nichole Millard plays it coy about whether or not angels constitute a certain segment of the student body, but of course, they do.
The movie's big, climactic revelation is that Cam, Daniel, the goth girl Molly (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), the protective Arriane (Hermione Corfield), and a few other students, whom we repeatedly see having clandestine meetings, are, indeed, the fallen angels of the story's unceasing interest. Did the filmmakers think we'd believe the lengthy prologue, the ancient stories, the secret conversations, the horrific looks from certain students when they learn Lucinda hasn't been baptized, and the strange happenings at the school were unrelated to the story, or is the movie the result of source material that's dragging out its story for as long as possible?
Those options aren't mutually exclusive, of course. One would hope, though, that a movie that panders to such youthful sentiments as—in this case, literally—undying love, while romanticizing the unhealthy behavior and attitudes that seem to plague these stories, wouldn't also believe that its audience is dumb enough to fall for a mystery as transparently obvious as whether or not there are angels in a story about angels. In retrospect, such a story, with its theological underpinnings, sounds like it could have some potential. It's a shame Fallen doesn't tell that story.
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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