Labeled as "Germany’s Answer to ’Brokeback Mountain’" on the back of its DVD case, "Free Fall" fully welcomes comparison to Ang Lee’s 2006 Oscar-winning masterpiece, (at least when it comes to marketing the film in America), but unfortunately, the film’s thin characterization and lack of emotional cognizance when it comes to exploring the concept of falling in love with a member of the same sex, make the film underwhelming and overall, incredibly disappointing.
Max Reimett stars as Marc, a seemingly happy police officer living with his girlfriend, Bettina (played by Katharina Schüttler) who is pregnant with their first child. It isn’t long, however, until Marc meets another officer in his unit named Kay (Hanno Koffler) and over time, the two form an intimate bond with one another. While it’s clear that Kay has romantic yearnings for Marc through his various attempts at initiating physical affection, Marc is hesitant to accept that that he too shares genuine feelings for Kay, fearing that his homosexual urges will not only destroy his social reputation, but cost him the love and trust of his family as well.
This is a premise that’s been played out on screen numerous times before, but as with most cinematic love stories, regardless of the characters’ genders or sexual orientations, if they’re crafted in a meticulous, emotionally poignant fashion, they can be as wonderful as a bowl of cherries. Unfortunately, despite strong performances from its talented cast, "Free Fall" falls victim to more conventional, melodramatic pitfalls.
The director, Stephen Lacant, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Karsten Dahlem, is much more fascinated with the painful consequences of Marc’s actions as opposed to developing his relationship with Kay. From the very beginning of "Free Fall," Kay comes onto Marc multiple times before we really know anything about either of these men, making it hard to fully connect with these characters on a psychological or emotional level.
Nobody in the film really has a chance to breathe or feel like a human being; by focusing merely on the angst that comes as a result of the various internal crises, there’s no emotional payoff, making Marc and Kay’s relationship feel utterly contrived. The actors (Reimett in particular) give it their all, but they’re stuck playing such one-note stereotypes that their performances can only elevate the material so far before it lets them down again.
It’s a shame, too, considering that there are several different stories that can be used as inspiration for films that depict characters coming to terms with their sexuality, and yet, for some reason, we’ve been seeing these same, cliché-ridden stories get recycled over and over for years now.
Apart from the film’s theatrical trailer, the DVD contains no Bonus Features, unless you count "5.1 Surround Sound" and Closed Captions, as such.