What constitutes a disability? Is it a physical impairment? Is it mental? Both? It's a blurry line, as some mental problems can manifest themselves in a very physical way. Our definitions and treatments have drastically changed in the last fifty years or so - hell, even the last twenty! But with all the hoop-la surrounding the issues, certain things are clear. Many people with physical or mental difficulties are often treated much differently. The physical issues are often addressed with pity - even when none is wanted or needed. The ones people can't see, are often treated with an utter lack of understanding. As if they don't even exist. For those that do want, or need some form of help, physical ailments are much easier to receive for. The downside is again, totally different interactions with most other people. Mental ailments are often categorized as the person simply being dumb, or trying to get attention. Help is harder to reach - and most times, because of peoples reactions, not even sought after or wanted. Yet both types have one thing in common. A yearning to be left alone and not centered out.
"Things That Fall" is a cute little film. And for those wondering... it's true. I never thought I'd use cute to describe a film - but if the shoe fits? Right? In this movie, Alex hears voices. Lots of them. In order to distract himself from said voices, he listens to music. Drowning those panic inducing voices, along with the rest of the world. Not only does this ailment make it hard to concentrate or study in school, but he's constantly receiving weird looks, or outright anger because he plays his music so loud. Carly, a classmate, is deaf. Or by the looks of things, nearly one hundred percent deaf. She no doubt suffers all kinds of tortures because of her lack of hearing - but at least people can tell just what's up. During an excursion to the library, Alex sees Carly attempting to reach a book. After struggling, he decides to help her. Two people coming together via a chance encounter. When it's all said and done? That's what this film is about. Human connection. Plain and simple.
There are a few touching moments packed into this short film. There's also a few sad ones - and nice little flourishes to think about. The entire opening act, in the classroom, happened to anger me a little. Only because I know it probably happens more often than not. I'll get into that below, but I'll just say that the scene was done nicely. Introducing both main characters - and letting us know that they are not complete strangers. Even hinting that Carly may be interested in Alex. Even if he doesn't know it.
Fast forward to the final scene. Without giving everything away, I took a double meaning when Carly listened into Alex's headphones. The first being the obvious - but the second a little more disguised. I could be totally wrong, but for me, when Carly listened to Alex's music, she was basically saying she/they are not much different than anybody else. A deaf person listening to music - does that not scream that she doesn't consider her lack of hearing a major disability? I know, technically she could feel the vibrations. But the allegory remained in my head.
But how does "Things That Fall" look and play? Honestly? This production is pretty well acted and pretty slick. No question about that. It plays just as good as you hope it does, and then some. And yet... I still struggled a wee bit with my personal rating. Back and forth from a four star, to a four and a half star review. Both ratings are exceptional, but obviously this troupe would rather the higher number. Why was I back and forth? A few things in the script kept bothering me.
First, for Alex, after being in class long enough to be doing a test, you would expect that the teacher knew of his condition. His oblivious nature made no sense to me. And secondly? I had a gripe with the description of this film. It's labelled as a love story of sorts, and truthfully? It isn't. It's a story of being lonely maybe. A story of two people connecting... but nowhere did I see any budding romance. Could I see a possible relationship developing after the credits rolled? Sure. But I could also see the two simply becoming good friends. My point is that there is no outright signals of any romantic relationship onscreen. Does that make "Things That Fall" any less powerful? Or diminish the movies obvious message? No. It's all simply a little misleading.
There you have it - my thoughts on a great short film. It's pretty quick, so when possible, there is really no excuse not to check out this cute little number. There. I wrote it again... cute. But seriously, Sy Huq along with his cast and crew have done a great job here. Four and a half out of five stars.