The original title of this bleak film - WHEN A MAN FALLS IN THE FOREST
was inexplicably shortened to the nebulous WHEN A MAN FALLS for the
release of the DVD: had the original title been retained, the audience may have been given a clue as to the intended message of the story. This is the second film for 26-year old writer/director Ryan Eslinger and it does suggest that he wants to deal with some existential material, but he has a way to grow into how to make it happen.
The lives of three men and a woman are interconnected in the all too common shallow 'relationships' that are a major problem in how our society is working. Bill (Dylan Baker) is a night janitor in a large company, a man who shuts out the boring world with his earphones connected to the great opera classics: he avoids people including those who saunter past him and those whose chaotic lives in the next door apartment distress him. Gary Fields (Timothy Hutton) is a down and out professional man who works in the building that Bill nocturnally keeps tidy, the two 'old high school acquaintances' meeting only because Gary has taken to sleeping in the office. Gary's wife Karen (Sharon Stone, without makeup and looking spent and used) has lost all feeling for living, detests Gary, and finds her only joy is in shoplifting. Gary has shut himself off from old friends for reasons that seem to be related to an accident that involved is best friend Travis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a man at odds with his own environment. The only apparent connection here is that, once Gary discovers that Bill is a night janitor, Gary and Travis feel guilty that their response to Bill in high school had been one of cruel ridicule. Each of the four main characters wanders aimlessly through a world that has become strange and vindictive and it is only a bizarre incident that throws the quartet into some semblance of meaning. Each person has fallen, but since they are in the midst of a lonely 'forest', has anyone noticed or cared? This could be a study in personal tragedy were it done better, but despite the fine credentials of the actors, the script is so full of holes that character development suffers and what results is not unlike watching an injured bull struggling around a bullfight ring as the crowd attends to the matador et al. Sadly we just don't care about these damaged people, making connection with the film next to impossible. Maybe next film...Grady Harp
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