Mortensen’s first effort behind the camera never settles into the expected grooves of its genre or premise. On the contrary, the film vibrates at its own unrecognizable frequency as soon as it starts, and only allows for easy categorization during the clunkier moments when it bumps against clichés like a boat that would rather crash into lighthouses than use them for guidance.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Falling fails hard, unable to generate sympathy for its protagonists and relying entirely on the charms of its writer/director to sustain interest. It’s a shame, as Mortensen’s a fine performer with a strong legacy, but the film feels like the worst kind of passion project, one that forgot to bring the audience in for what amounts to a film more masturbatory than moving.
Despite great direction by Mortensen, who also delivers a strong performance alongside Henriksen and (briefly) Linney, Falling is a repetitive and exhausting exercise that never gets around to unpacking why the audience should care about its ailing patriarch character. It’s too long and too one note for too little pay-off.
The Hollywood Reporter by John DeFore
Falling doesn't transform its emotional landscape into a simple question of rejection or forgiveness. It's comfortable knowing that meanness and affection can exist in the same person, and that tolerance, even when it only flows in one direction, benefits both giver and recipient.
Mortensen is clearly attuned to the emotional toll of maintaining such a relationship—loving someone even if they don’t show any love back—but once this idea is firmly laid out early on, the repetitive narrative doesn’t expand to reveal more layers of complexity.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
It’s a really valuable work, beautifully edited and shot, with a wonderful performance by the veteran actor Lance Henriksen: a sombre, clear-eyed look at the bitter endgame of dementia.
Falling is unpretentious and perfectly accessible to mainstream audiences. Mortensen’s patience, his way with actors and his trust in our intelligence are not unlike late-career Eastwood, which isn’t a bad place to be so early in one’s directing career.
The Playlist by Robert Daniels
It ultimately crashes into a heap due to a host of rambling non-connective ideas and tonally grating dialogue.
Falling is a finely drawn character drama, as you might expect from much of Mortensen’s acting career, and a film that pays attention to small details that bring these people to life.
The Observer (UK) by Wendy Ide
The directorial debut of Viggo Mortensen, which he also wrote and stars in, is an empathetic but gruelling account of a father-son relationship.