Emily Mody - Falls Around Her

Posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 10:00 PM

Falls Around Her

Review by Emily Mody x CalgaryMovies.com

Falls Around Her is a feature length Canadian film directed by Darlene Naponse. The story follows Mary Birchbark (played by Tantoo Cardinal). Mary is a successful musician who decides to leave her career and return home to her reservation. Mary loves the peace and solitude that being home brings her. After a series of unsettling encounters on her secluded land however, Mary begins to realize that it may not be as easy as she thought to leave her old life behind her.

The acting in this film is very good, particularly Tantoo Cardinal. This is the first time I had seen any of her work and I was thoroughly impressed by her charisma, confidence, and sincerity. Mary is Anishinaabe, almost seventy and she is empowered in every aspect of her life. This is such a refreshing aspect of the story that is rarely, if ever shared among mainstream media. For this aspect of the story alone, the film is worth seeing. The character development is very good as well. The only aspect that I wish was handled differently was how the rising action developed. I feel that it developed too quickly towards the end of the film and was not consistently laced throughout. For this reason, as I was watching the film I thought that various other story lines would take the forefront or have a greater impact on the ending.

Falls Around Her reminds me of the feature length thriller, Ice Blue directed by Sandi Somers. Ice Blue follows a fifteen year old named Arielle. Before she turns sixteen, she is visited by her estranged mother and learns about a devastating family secret. Both films demonstrate a similar tone in how they regard the natural landscapes that they take place. In both films, the unforgiving Canadian winter, and the rural spaces almost become a character in and of themselves. Both of these films are also thrillers and deal with the potential physical and mental dangers of isolation. The biggest difference between the films is the protagonists. Ice Blue tells a story of a young woman who is just beginning to discover herself, who she is, and where she comes from. Whereas, Falls Around Her tells a story of a mature woman who is so deeply rooted in who she is that her identity is unshakeable.

Overall, Falls Around Her has very rich and authentic characters. I really enjoyed the intersections of the natural world with the characters lives. I would recommend this film to anyone who has an interest in thrillers, aboriginal culture, or stories about empowered women. Falls Around Her contains all the elements about film that I love, the ability to inspire, excite, and push boundaries. I am so happy to see such a strong female lead and look forward to the other work that Darlene Naponse will create.

Falls Around Her is 100 minutes long. It contains violence and sexuality. If you are a sensitive viewer it is important to note that this film also contains stalking and violence against women in particular.  

Calgary Showtimes:  Falls Around Her >


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