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TORONTO 2018 Contemporary World Cinema

Review: Let Me Fall

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- TORONTO 2018: Icelandic filmmaker Baldvin Z delivers a bleak, emotional, lyrical drama about the unseen drug-abusing and self-catastrophic teen generation of today’s Reykjavik

Review: Let Me Fall
Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir and Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir in Let Me Fall

Icelandic filmmaker Baldvin Z (Zophoníasson) needs little introduction. Being one of the most recognised directors in his country, he shot onto the scene with his debut teenage drama Jitters [+see also:
trailer
interview: Atli Óskar Fjalarsson
film profile
]
in 2010, while his sophomore drama Life in a Fishbowl [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
(2014) was screened and awarded at multiple film festivals. He later focused on TV series, directing episodes for Case and Trapped. He has recently finished two feature documentaries, Beyond Strength [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Island Songs. Baldvin Z’s third fiction feature, Let Me Fall [+see also:
trailer
interview: Baldvin Z
film profile
]
, world-premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival.

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When teenager Magnea (Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir) meets Stella (Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir) for the first time, her life inevitably changes. Once an A-grade student and talented sportswoman, Magnea wants to abandon her middle-class life and is fascinated by Stella’s unconventional lifestyle and vivid personality. She slowly follows her and her boyfriend Toni (Sturla Atlas) into a world of deterioration. Starting off as small-time crooks, the group is soon introduced to drugs, alcohol, sex and parties that will only serve to worsen their situation. Despite her father’s (Þorsteinn Bachmann) attempts to interfere, Magnea carves out her own path. As the mutual sexual attraction and love between the two girls intensifies, they are ready to escape, ignoring the unpredictable catastrophic consequences. They lose contact with each other, and an awkward meeting 12 years later – where one is a professional and the other still downtrodden – will create an unescapable tension between the once inseparable Magnea and Stella.

Based on real events, Baldvin Z delivers his most tormenting and tragically-engaging film yet. A bleak captivating depiction of an unseen horror in today’s Reykjavik. Along with his co-writer Birgir Örn Steinarsson – their second collaboration – Baldvin began investigating these stories a couple of years ago. They wanted to explore the dark side of teenagers who “simply” get drawn into drugs and soon go missing, something seemingly unprecedented for Icelandic society. They are called “the Lost Girls,” and their faces usually appear on the front pages of newspapers. Through Magnea’s story, a previously unexplored world unfolds, where adolescents are trapped in their addictions and left helpless with their nemeses.

Exceptionally well-cast, with some impressive emotionally-packed performances by newcomers Halldórsdóttir and Jakobsdóttir, Let Me Fall grabs the audience’s attention and is not just another coming-of-age social drama. It spans different decades and periods in these girls’ lives, where as adults Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir (And Breathe Normally) and Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir (Under the Tree) also deliver solid performances, giving a wider overview of the story by escalating the impact of the actual events. The harsh and emphatic illustration of their decay acts both as a shocker and as a critical tool to current events that currently torment this lost generation.

Baldvin Z focuses extensively on the aftermath of his heroines’ actions in order to offer closure to their story but also to initiate a dialogue in his society. Visually, Let Me Fall follows the darker edges of its narration, lensed by the director’s regular cinematographer Johann Máni Johannsson, while renowned composer’s Ólafur Arnalds’ music enhances the film’s feeling of distress.

Let Me Fall is an Icelandic-Finnish-German co-production by Júlíus Kemp and Ingvar Þórðarson (KISI - The Icelandic Film Company) with Markus Selin, Jukka Helle (Solar Films) and Sophie Mahlo (Neutrinos Production) in co-operation with the Icelandic Film Centre, RÚV, and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. The Icelandic Film Company is also handling the film’s international sales.

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