17 November 2010 | cchase
Films produced with micro-budgets and little to no time at all can produce pretty unpredictable results, usually on the very good or the very, VERY bad side. I am happy to report that director Marcus Koch's psychodrama FELL, well, "falls" into the former category rather than the latter, thanks to a strong cast led with a gut-wrenching performance by his lead actor, Jeff Dylan Graham.
Premiered here in the States at the second annual Blood Bath Film Festival in Dallas, Graham (who also snagged the Festival's Best Actor prize, and deservedly so) portrays a deeply troubled young man named Bill, who at the beginning of the film is grappling with the aftermath of a relationship gone very, VERY wrong. We have all been there, of course, but hopefully not to the level of agony and encroaching madness that 'Our Hero' is unfortunate enough to be experiencing. And to make matters worse, other than the steadfast presence of his best bud, Derrik (Kristian Day), Bill has to weather the storm of his depression, anger and stress dealing with his "problem" pretty much alone. And that's not even the half of it.
The influence of filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky and Roman Polanski is pretty apparent here (with nods especially to REPULSION and to some extent, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM). But Koch's sure hand at the helm and the strong support from both Day and Katie Walters as Bill's girlfriend help to make FELL a remarkable little indie effort in its own right.
But what makes it work is really Graham's performance as its centerpiece. Bill could have very easily just been one more sobby, whiny, sad-sack, emo slacker/loser who would eventually get on your last nerve. But Graham mines the role for every ounce of vulnerability and pathos he can wring from it, and thank GAWD for that...otherwise it would've been an hour-plus of sheer cinematic torture that no audience in their right mind would suffer sitting through.
Here's hoping that Koch and Graham will become the indie answer to 'Scorsese/DiCaprio' and team up for many more projects to come.