Hear that? That’s the sound of Mitt Romney crapping his temple garments. As we learn from The Falls, and not to our surprise, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t exactly hospitable to the kind of love that occurs between anything or anyone besides a man and his many, many wives.
There’s actually a smart little scene early in Jon Garcia’s film in which our two Mormon protagonists, having been assigned to each other’s company on a year-long mission in Portland, are “ambushed” by a church critic who calls them out over the whole polygamy thing.
Along with a late-night attack by rednecks that doesn’t go the way you’d expect it to, this puts enough of a crack in their faith that Elders Smith and Merrill—both very young, handsome, and athletic, as it happens—are gradually emboldened to explore a few other cracks.
Experiments with weed, snacking, and stoner movie-nights with a PTSD–afflicted Iraq war veteran exile them even further from their missionary work, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by the church heirarchy, or that uptight little prick Elder Harris who runs their dorm.
“He’s nice,” Elder Merrill earnestly comments to Smith, after the two are introduced by the prickly Harris. Such are the lies we tell ourselves; a universal (and subtly funny) truth given a clever boost here when it’s set against the almost pathological and somewhat cultish normalcy of Mormon life. Garcia compounds his point with photography and composition as crisp, bright, and bland as the non-threatening white dress shirts that Smith and Merrill climb into each morning.
The Falls is bound to be one of the Vancouver Queer Film Fest’s biggest hits. The subject matter is already a source of fascination, with or without the (oh so timely) question of sexual freedom thrown into the mix.
If the film suffers from some uneven performances, Nick Ferruci hits every right note as Elder Smith, especially when he uses compassion and humour to leverage a human response out of his starchier and more nervous companion. Ultimately, The Falls ends up being one of the most enjoyable blasts from or about the LDS since the Osmonds put out their nutty 1973 album, The Plan.
The Falls screens at the Empire Granville 7, on Sunday (August 19), with director Jon Garcia in attendance.