BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
MARCH 29, 2014
Completely bare-bones, “Falling Overnight” is a love story using the streets of Los Angeles as a backdrop. Presented as completely natural, it embodies a quality of independent film-making that projects everyday life in the most interesting of ways. Despite this ability to appear organic, the presentation often falls short of actually connecting, delivered too haphazard and with too much freestyle. What helps the film come off natural is the fact that the leading actors are fairly new to acting, having appeared in just a few things before this film. They have a vulnerability and nakedness to the lens that leaves them wide open, appearing sincere and genuinely filled with emotion. However, seasoned actors have proven far better in roles like this, for example, Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones have a much more impressive showing in “Like Crazy,” another authentic love story that strictly focuses on the evolution of love with a realistic and unabashed way.
Rising above the more melodramatic fare in the independent drama genre, the distinct plot helps carry the film along in memorable fashion. Our lead, Elliot Carson (Parker Croft) prepares to have brain surgery in the morning, a risky operation that could lead to the worst possible outcome. Keeping his parents at a distance and having no real friends to speak of, Elliot uses a chance encounter with the adorable Chloe Webb (Emilia Zoryan) as a welcomed distraction. Traveling between an art show to house party to biking through the L.A. nightlife, the characters form a connection, with the innocence of new love briefly eclipsing Elliot’s pending condition. Yet even with that innocence, these young characters project a maturity that lets them deal with these complicated issues in their adult ways.
The chemistry is undeniable between Croff and Zoryan, playing off each other as if there is no script, with the dialogue coming off very spontaneous and authentic. The only problem I had with the film spawns from that spontaneity, which often results in strange sidebars that have no real connection to the plot and only land in the film to either pad the runtime or to profess a reality that either the writer, director, or actor feels strongly about. Coming off too real, or coming off as if the director simply turned on a camera and let life play out in front of it, is not what an audience wants to see from a fictional piece. Most of the scenes in the film do feel natural and do still hold a quality of cinematic enjoyment, watching this young love blossom despite the pending doom that hangs over one of the characters. Emilia Zoryan, in particular, commands her delivery and holds a poise that is much sturdier than her counterparts.
Sincerity fills the film, and nothing brings this out more than the music throughout, especially captured by my favorite moment, as the birthday party disperses to a tunnel concert where the artist Emperor X is performing a song called “Addison Aceh” which he strums and screams beautifully. This moment made the film for me, and years from now, when I remember this film, it will be this small scene that comes to mind. With the ability to evoke emotion with very little effort, this little drama works just fine as a low budget, independent love story. However, having witnessed so many other films from small-time directors accomplish the same level of emotion with even more brilliance and truly stand out performances, it is hard to say that “Falling Overnight” is a complete success. But for what it is, the film captures the sentiment and is a respectable first feature from director Conrad Jackson, especially considering his involvement as executive producer on the wretched 2009 surf drama “The Outside.”
July 27, 2012