It has “Maddie McCann” written all over it. Except that it’s in a different country, and the missing child is of a different gender. A couple from the Northern Europe (Danish Adam and Swedish Louise) are desperately seeking their boy in the Canary Islands, years after he vanished. The Spanish police have now decided to close the case, adamant that the boy simply drowned. The parents remain resolute to find their beloved child whatever it takes, and they take justice into their own hands.
The search isn’t an easy one. The local teenagers – who were about the age of their son Lucas when he disappeared – are very unhelpful, as if they had something to hide. Adam (Dar Salim) confronts Emilio, one of the adolescents. The ensuing kerfuffle culminates in violence. Adam becomes increasingly dysfunctional in his search, he’s even willing to confront the police. There is an element of cultural arrogance, it seems. Perhaps Adam believes that the Spanish police are not as efficient and reliable as its Danish counterpart.
Louise (Lisa Carleheld) is slightly more levelheaded and prudent. She is the most complex and intriguing character (the other ones are mostly flat personages) in Until We Fall. Plus, Carleheld looks a lot like a younger version of her countrysake Liv Ullmann. Eventually, her husband’s incessant vigilantism and aggressive demeanour begin to take their toll on the couple’s relationship. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Louise begins an affair in the final third of the movie.
There are many problems with Until We Fall, the biggest one of them being a narrative arc that doesn’t go anywhere. There is no climax and no resolution. The story goes off on a tangent and never returns. The ending is extremely bland. Some elements of the movie are hardly plausible, such as the fact that every single Spanish person speaks perfect English. Other elements are blurry and/or don’t make much sense: it’s never clear how many years earlier the child disappeared, why the couple never sold their apartment, and what happened in all these years since the tragic event took place. The suspense devices are quite unimaginative: such as having a cigarette or a glass of wine in order to extend the moments just before a big revelation is made. The camerawork is quite uninspired, and never captures the exquisite beauty of the Canary Islands. Unfortunately there isn’t much to salvage in Until We Fall, except perhaps for Carlehed’s nuanced performance.
Until We Fall is showing in Competition at the 22nd Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, taking place right now. It’s unlikely to make it beyond the festival circuit.