The Falls (2021) Review: Alyssa Chia Movie Relives the Pandemic Horror

The Falls (Pu Bu/瀑布) is a psychological drama that is now streaming on Netflix. The audio of the film is originally in Mandarin with English subtitles. The film has a running time of 2 hours and 9 minutes. The synopsis of the film on Netflix reads, “After having to quarantine together during covid-19, a mother and daughter are forced to confront their personal obstacles and relationship tensions.” The film casts Alyssa Chia, Gingle Wang, Chen Yi-wen, Lee Lee-zen and others in various lead and supporting roles. It is written by Chang Yaosheng and Chung Mong-hong and directed by Chung Mong-Hong. 

– The Falls review does not contain spoilers –

The Falls was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards and has also bagged 4 awards at the 58th Golden Horse Awards. The film revolves around the trauma caused by the Covid-19 pandemic especially to patients who were put in quarantine. 17-year-old Xiao Jing (played by Gingle Wang) is sent home for quarantine after a classmate at school tests positive for Covid-19. Her well-to-do mother, Pin-Wen (played by Alyssa Chia), after informing her employers about this recent development, is asked to take a leave of absence.

One of the most remarkable features of The Falls is the lighting and the cinematography of the film. Xiao Jing and her mom’s flat in a high-rise apartment undergoing exterior renovations. A blue construction tarp hence encloses the entire flat. It is the light from this tarp that envelops the entire flat in an omnipotent and all-pervasive blue light. The blue light is used for constructing the emotions and the underlying theme of the film. There are closeups, especially when the facade of easy dialogue does not reveal the inner turmoil of the character. 

The film is scary. It is scary because it is not fictitious. The pandemic was real and so were all the incidents that are shown in the film. The viewer relates to the incidents and the deteriorating mental health conditions. It is this relation that establishes a connection between the characters on screen and the viewer, thus making the viewer feel like it is their story that is being filmed. The Falls does an outstanding job at portraying how the pandemic impacted our relationships–with the outer world, with our near and dear ones and especially with ourselves.

There is a slow-burning tension in the film that keeps the viewer at the edge of their seats and provides an element of anticipation.

The cast is impeccably chosen. Alyssa Chia’s breakthrough performance as a scared teen living with her mentally unstable mother is one that deserves applause. The film shifts easily through its changing scenes. The change is so subtle yet stable that one feels like watching a steady river flow towards its climax. It is an important film because it makes us question our priorities, and evaluate them through lived human experiences. Shifting priorities and shifting our previous ways of life–lessons that The Falls upholds.

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The Falls (2021) Review: Alyssa Chia Movie Relives the Pandemic Horror

Summing up: The Falls

The film at its core is a psychological thriller. It is dark, it is gritty and it is very very real. It is important to establish certain trigger warnings before initiating the journey of living through the onscreen pandemic experience. The film is far from perfect and it is this imperfection that makes it a success. Apart from a script that seems a bit slow at times, The Falls does quite a commendable job at portraying the pandemic hardship. It unites us in our suffering and portrays that human beings at the end of the day need human connections to stay afloat. 

The Falls is now streaming on Netflix.

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The Falls is a psychological drama about pandemic hardships that takes a dark, grisly and relatable route.

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The Falls is a psychological drama about pandemic hardships that takes a dark, grisly and relatable route.The Falls (2021) Review: Alyssa Chia Movie Relives the Pandemic Horror