Friday June 27, 1997
"Fall" is an act of bravado on the part of actor-writer-director Eric Schaeffer that is never less than involving, despite some silly asides. It is convincing as a scorchingly intense love affair and, as such, it is considerably more intelligent than, for example, "9 1/2 Weeks."
Schaeffer, who first came to attention with his films "My Life Is in Turnaround" and "If Lucy Fell," stars himself as Michael Shiver, a New York cab driver and writer who considers himself a cabby first. When fabled model Sarah Easton (the aptly cast Amanda DeCadenet, a former model and British talk-show presenter turned actress) gets into Michael's cab, he is swiftly transfixed. Never mind that Sarah is married to a handsome European aristocrat (Rudolph Martin), who conveniently will be abroad for the next two months.
Michael is implacable and totally confident in his pursuit of Sarah. Schaeffer doesn't give us much time to ponder the deathless question of whether two people from such different worlds can sustain a romance. And, actually, Michael and Sarah as lovers is no stretch. Michael is not handsome and is shorter than Sarah, but he has an interesting George C. Scott-Roy Scheider nose and is in good shape. He has a deep, resonant voice, recites love poems and has a down-to-earth blue-collar masculinity. As such, he represents a refreshing contrast to the glittery world in which Sarah travels and, try as she might, she can't resist him.
Michael and Sarah come across as adults who are trying to keep their eyes wide open about their relationship, but the chemistry between them is truly torrid. Since Schaeffer and DeCadenet get this couple just right, it's too bad Schaeffer doesn't stick to that.
But instead he has Michael pretentiously admit that 10 years ago fresh out of school he wrote a bestseller but lost his ambition amid all the hullabaloo it brought him. (As if Thomas Pynchon feels he has to go on book tours and talk shows!)
Then there's this problem of Michael having as best buddies two beautiful women, one of them about to be ordained as an Episcopal priest and who has a penchant for outre performance art. They hang on his every word about the progress of his romance. This makes Michael and, in turn, Schaeffer himself come across as men of overweening ego and self-regard.
Even so, Michael does emerge as a man willing to risk everything for love, and in "Fall," it's the man rather than the woman who's the true romantic.
Fall, 1997. Unrated. A Capella International and Five Minutes Before the Miracle presentation. Writer-producer-director Eric Schaeffer. Producer Terrence Michael. Executive producer Tom Gamble. Cinematographer Joe De Salvo. Editor Thom Zinney. Costumes Kim Marie Druce. Music Amanda Kravat. Production designer Michael Shaw. Set decorator Kara Cressman. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. Eric Schaeffer as Michael Shiver. Amanda DeCadenet as Sarah Easton. Rudolph Martin as Philippe.