Released in Germany as `Freir Fall' this has been compared to `Brokeback Mountain', but apart from it being about a man who is gay in a heterosexual relationship, I can't really see any other similarities. We meet Marc who is a cop and he has a pregnant girlfriend and what appears to be a life plan. Then at the academy he meets Kay who is more free whelin' than him and after getting off on the wrong foot they slowly hit it off.
Now despite the police or polizei being all inclusive these days there is still a vast undercurrent of homophobia and this is shown and there is some violence. Soon Marc realises what he wants and moreover who he wants but societal pressures and the arrival of his new baby son are all contributing to make him want to hurt the one he really loves.
This is a rather good film the two male leads are always guaranteed to put in a solid performance. Marc is played by Hanno Kofler - `Krabat' and the excellent `Summer Storm'. Kay is played by Max Riemelt - `Napola' and `The Fourth State'. The sub titles are good to ok as they are not always a literal translation which I know some prefer but I like it told straight. This is a film that will not tick all the boxes, the ending especially may fail to deliver for some viewers; there is a limited amount of scenes of a sexual nature but nothing to frighten the horses of even a randy pony to be honest. However, this is still a very strong film with some excellent performances indeed - recommended to fans of gay themed cinema.
Apparently it's been branded the German Brokeback Mountain for its obvious similarities, but I enjoyed this a lot more. I always thought BM was a film about homosexual men made for a heterosexual audience. I don't believe that's the case here.
It tells the rather tried and tested story of a man (Marc) realising he has feelings for another man (Kay) at a time in his life that is ironically inopportune.
However, it's disarming and affectionate nature allows that it pulls off the whole "straight-guy-who-belatedly-realises-he's-not" with a fresh feel, assured script, and (always a winner) damn good acting.
It's entirely natural and therefore believable; you'll find no contrivance here, no clumsiness.
Indeed, a factor that sets this apart from similar films I've seen is the confident way it displays affection. Once you get past the initial and (a tad unnecessarily) awkward encounters there is a wonderful intimacy conveyed between the pair that isn't obscured by excessive shadow or so brief it would be missed in a blink. This lingering is wonderful and I hope emulation will follow!
I would have enjoyed a few more conversations between Marc & Kay in order to voice the progress of their relationship, particularly Marc's. There's only really the one in-depth discussion and it is so well done - full of subtleties, frustration and affection - that it made me feel the loss of similar scenes all the more.
This is an accomplished, confident film that is sure to please the most discerning viewer. It explores the ultimate perils of suppression and the fools it will not suffer, as well as the prejudices people harbour and the damage they can do.
The ending is a tad ambiguous but thankfully not as tragic as the film leads you to believe. However, it is likely the most realistic there could have been, and leaves a wealth of possible outcomes to ponder.
Gay films can be a bit hit or miss but this is the latest in a run of outstanding releases over the last few months, including Monster Pies, Let My People Go!, and Les Invisibles. It's one of those films you look forward to seeing as much the second time as the first, leaving you with a sense of emotion you want to re-enter. The tone is fairly serious, although the relationship between the two police cadets does have an element of ribbing. The plot outline sounds like an identikit drama but it is much more engrossing than this would imply. Hanno Koffler (Marc) is a familiar face from the excellent comedy Summer Storm, where he played a super-confident gay rower; here he is much less sure of himself, as an all but married man, about to be a father, but suddenly taken over by gay desires for a fellow recruit. The latter, called Kay, turns out to be something of a free thinker and rebel, despite his chosen profession, initiating Marc into smoking spliffs. One of these, blown from the mouth of one to the other, leads to the first lip-to-lip contact: a thrilling moment which initially makes Marc jump back when he senses what is really happening. But his instincts soon take over when Kay presses his attentions further in a couple of fairly breathtaking sequences, it has to be said. Some of the scenes do get a real intensity between the actors, which are often fairly short. There is an electric charge that Koffler (in particular) and Max Riemelt are well able to convey, while Katharina Schuttler does well with a less rewarding role as the girlfriend, Bettina. Only Marc really comes across in three dimensions, though (actual 3D could have enhanced it in certain ways - see below!).
Parallels with Brokeback Mountain are there - Bettina even looks a little like Anne Hathaway - but as another reviewer has said this film feels "gayer". Where the visuals tended to the pictorial in Ang Lee's film, here the look is much darker with stark contrast between light and shade, and more up-close; the interiors themselves are a little bland. The camera is not very focused on the setting, you feel, but rather on creating mood and emotion, as it prowls after Marc and looms over his shoulder as if it might lick his ear, and you notice his solidity and the marvellous boyish shape of his head. The intimacy between the men is more explicit and joyous, and there is more nudity. In BM you felt Ang Lee was worried he might put off the straight audience, but you don't get the feeling the director Stephan Lacant is unduly concerned with that. In fact Lee's film, with hindsight, seems a little dull in its plodding through the respective family sagas, in a way that this one largely avoids through its sexual exuberance. Koffler does manage to get a lot of intensity and confusion into the role, and I only regret one of the scenes showing his beautiful rear end as he pulls on his pale blue underwear in the showers at the gym got deleted. (A scene with him pushing a lawnmower almost makes up for this, shot from this height.) Fortunately this Peccadillo release allows you to view it - and a number of other out-takes - as an extra.
on 28 February 2014
Unlike Hollywood it would appear that European gay films have no problems with making films that are not 'tidy' and are not confined to the concerns of a select few streets in New York. This particular film addresses a lot of issues which must affect some men who realise just that bit too late, or at an inconvenient time, that they have feelings for other men - or in this case just one man. All the parts are really well acted and no one lets the film down. The other policemen and particularly the girlfriend give very realistic performances. The reactions of the parents are interesting. In Hollywood the parents tend to come round or accept very rapidly their son's situation. In this film they don't want it. They just want him to get married, settle down next door and just live like them. 'We didn't raise you to be like this' was one sentence his mother said when she saw them kiss in the hospital. The look on her face when she gets into the lift is priceless!
You do feel sorry for the girlfriend though. She has just given birth and then she has to deal with her partner's infidelity. "I can't even get jealous!" I would have thought that German police would be the least homophobic of all forces in Europe but this film shows that it is just as alive there as anywhere and they are certainly not wanted in the dressing rooms.
The main character Marc does a very good job of battling his desires. It is the slow development of going from recoiling at another man's touch to the reluctant acceptance of his overwhelming desires for the other man - even to the ending of his relationship with the mother of his son. The film does not tie up everything nicely. We are left with a lot of loose ends but I suppose that is what happens in a lot of these situations. The child isn't just going to disappear and Marc's destiny is also left in the air. It is not certain where he will end up.
Overall an engaging film which does justice to the theme. Do watch the deleted scenes on the 'Extras' as they add to the film. I don't know why they weren't added as they aren't too long.
on 23 February 2014
Its been awhile since a film has appealed to me on so many levels, and ended up affecting me in so many ways. Whilst the story is not new, its execution is done with such tenderness and sincerity it is difficult to see the film as a mere story.
The tenderness in particular, that is displayed between the two leads (Max Riemelt and Hanno Koffler) is for me a profound testament to the depth of this story, and is a powerful indication of how two actors can successfully portray the depth of emotion required for the deep tragedy that results. Many have referred to this as the German "Brokeback Mountain", which I feel is both unfair and inaccurate. "Free Fall" is its own story, and whilst there may be similarities to Brokeback in its premise, it differs on so many important and unique levels.
Max Reielt (playing Kay Engel) will be known to GLBT fans having acted in "Before the Fall". he was good in that film (As well as "The Wave"), but he excels in "Free Fall". His character seems distinctly confident and removed, without any need for drama or verbal expression, and this quietness stands in start contrast to Hanno Koffler's ("Summer Storm", "Krabat" and the "Red Baron") character Marc Borgmann. Hanno is passionate, expressive and repressed making for an engaging interaction between the two men. Yet between that passion and that aggression, are moments of profound intimacy that need little, if any explanation. Herein lies the true beauty of "Free Fall", in that the inner conflict and tumultuous unfolding of Marc, stands in stark contrast to his deep affection for Kay. Despite which, he finds himself forced to make a choice.
A superb film coming from two successful actors, beautifully portrayed and well written. A gem amongst a sea of half baked, poorly executed GLBT films. This is a film you must have, for you are guaranteed to watch it many times over.
on 15 March 2014
Bought this as have seen both Hanno Koffler and Max Riemelt in other German films and enjoyed their performances.
This film is a stunning piece of cinema, it's heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I highly recommend it and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
on 28 January 2014
One of the best gay films iv seen in a long time.
Very powerful and realistic.
This is one film to add to your collection.
on 3 May 2014
A real touching film of confused feelings that dwell deep inside of our main character. Acting is very good and the mood of the film is deep and dark. Both guys play their parts excellent, and you are left undecided on which path they should choose. He has so much going for him, yet the uncontrollable feelings for the other guy are so much stronger at times, he is left frustrated and so confused. It is a great film that has you engrossed the whole way through. Hanno Kofler is great to watch, from Summer Storm, where his character is so eye catching, to this lead role, he is really growing from strength to strength. Watch it, well word the time
on 31 January 2014
This film is in ingenius!
Here's my humble attempt to interpret the not so obvious many layers of this wonderful film:
The evolution Marc (Hanno Koffler) is going through in his public life (living the "ultimate" dream - having a girlfriend, living together in a small country house, a soon to be father...) symbolizes the evolution he is going through in his closeted ,away from the public eye, life. Much like the fetus developing in his girlfriend's womb, so is Marc's existence, and as the film progresses and so is the pregnancy, so is Marc's character and so are his relationships with kay, with Betinna, his parents and his friends in the unit, until ultimately the child is born. The birth of his child represents the turning point of his life and also, in my opinion, the birth of his new being. It is only then when he accepts his new self and embraces his attraction to men in general and his love for Kay in particular.
The 2 leading actors are truly SUPERB (Hanno Koffler as Marc and Max Riemelt as Kay are extremely reliable and convincing, captivating the viewer with their true rare and outstanding acting skills. [while at it, I would recommend watching the other films these 2 brilliant actors play in]). Their co-stars shine as well (Katharina Schüttler as Bettina, Oliver Bröcker as Frank, and the list goes on). A truly brillinat cast. Also note Maren Kroymann ((best known for her role in "Mein Leben & ich")) as Marc's homophobic mother who is, in real life, openly lesbian... if that's not a brilliant casting then I don't know what is. Hats off!
The only "issue" I have with this film is the fast pace, at least at the beginning, which, in my opinion, somewhat sabotages its credibility (I mean, the guys have only known each other for what now? 2 minutes? and they're already having sex? considering that one of them is supposed to be "straight", he sure was ready to "go at it"). I also think that the ending is very confusing. There isn't really an end to this film and the viewers are left with some sort of an annoying feeling and a bunch of unanswered questions : Was Marc really left alone? where's Bettina? Where's Kay? I mean, hello, there are cell phones nowadays, why hasn't Marc called to see where Kay is? was Kay just vanished off the face of the earth? No wonder people are asking for a sequel...There's just no obvious closure. However, the director's decision to end the film with a(nother) running secene is yet another example of how brilliant this film is, because inspite of the many unanswered questions we the viewers are left with, we somewhat do get the feeling that Marc went on with his life - he kept going, kept on running. Where to exactly? maybe the sequel will reveal... (although I doubt that there ever gonna be a sequel).
I love the fact that the sex scenes weren't very literal (or "in your face" if you'd like), as some of the sex scenes in other gay themed films are. Without being too explicit the 2 main characters still manage to be very passionate and reliable. I really felt like Kay and Marc were making love, rather than just having (meaningless) sex.
In conclusion, I would recommend this film to anyone, "straight" or gay, black or white, tall or short, skinny or full figuered. It just doesn't matter. This is a simple, yet intense and mesmerizing , love story for EVERYONE!
on 27 October 2015
This is a beautiful film. So well acted - I was gripped and my husband, who was passing and not really into this kind of thing, ending up being drawn in and watching the end of it. This is an indie film which should reach a much wider audience, and it's nice to see a gay film where although there is a gay angle, it is not the only story. This ultimately is a universal story about love, betrayal and heartbreaking decisions.
It's rather heartbreaking to watch because you can sort of tell it can't end well and you don't know who to root for - Marc who does his best to resist and finds himself town between Bettina, who he really does seem to love and be attracted to, Bettina who is vulnerable and about to lose it all (the shower scene nearly made me cry), or Kai who does fall in love with Marc, but who has got himself into this difficult situation and dragged Marc in too.
It's subtle but raw at the same time. It's beautifully filmed, with lots of use of shadows. It's quite morally ambivalent - as is life. There are no clear cut answers here.
I would have liked it to be made clearer how much time has passed as it is difficult to work out how long Kai and Marc have been involved, which makes Kai's love for Marc seem rather quick. I'd also have liked to have seen more affection between the two men because at times it seems more lust than love. The ending was the only possible ending in the circumstances but I'd also love to see a sequel with a happy end to the character arc - for all 3 of them.