A serious undertaking overwhelmed by amateurishness, "The Falls: Testament of Love" is writer-director Jon Garcia's sequel to last year's "The Falls," a no-budget (as in a reported $7,000) staple of gay film festivals that introduced two closeted Mormons who fall in love during a mission. Garcia's follow-up takes place five years later, when out writer RJ (Nick Ferrucci) has left the church and moved to Seattle, while Chris (Benjamin Farmer) doubles down on his LDS life by undergoing reparative therapy, marrying a woman, having a child and cutting off contact with RJ.
The death of a common friend brings the two into each other's orbits again, though, with predictably fraught — and sudsy — consequences. Garcia means well by treating religious conviction and family heartbreak as sincerely as he does the identity crises of his clean-cut, roiling-underneath leads. But the overall flatness of the direction pushes the material into unintended campiness — each scene of stilted dialogue and longing looks could just as easily be the awkward prelude to triple-X action rather than the psychologically squeezing Sirkian melodrama Garcia is aiming for.
Apart from Farmer's effectively stricken portrayal of a singularly conflicted man, "The Falls: Testament of Love" is too earnest a slog to have any impact.
"The Falls: Testament of Love."
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 2 hours
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.