There are plenty of movies about humans and animals developing a bond and how this connection transcends beyond man’s understanding. The Falconer, written and directed by Adam Sjöberg and Seanne Winslow, might seem like one such film at first glance. However, the filmmakers take a more grounded approach toward the subject.
The drama follows Tariq (Rami Zahar) and Cai (Rupert Fennessy), who work in a zoo. Their love of all animals, not just the few under their charge, is indisputable. But when duty calls, they have to make difficult decisions to help those dear to them. See, the friends are put on a quest to help Tariq’s sister, Alia (Noor Al-Huda), through her divorce from her terrible husband.
Although his mother is from the region, Cai is a westerner who is amused by the natural as well as cultural beauties of Yemen, where the whole story takes place. As a young native boy, Tariq has more pressing matters to attend to, such as the fact that there is little to no future for environmental and animal rights activists in a country on the brink of a civil war. Complicating matters further is the pain and suffering inflicted on his sister by an abusive husband. The fascination of a foreigner visiting a new land and the real-world concerns of a person living in the same society are the two sides of the same coin that the filmmakers so elegantly display.
“…the friends are put on a quest to help Tariq’s sister…”
The young actors are good at engaging with the audience on an emotional level. Perhaps this is because the characters of The Falconer are not that complex. Though it could be considered a negative point for a work of art, this simplicity in character and motive puts the spotlight on their interaction as a community of living, thinking beings rather than small, insignificant individuals. This fits perfectly with the general theme about the interconnectivity of nature and humans.
What the film lacks is drama. No one expects mind-blowing plot twists from a socially conscious story rooted in real-world events, but the characters do not encounter a single obstacle on their quest. The story has the potential for a few curveballs to be thrown without feeling forced. At the very least, all truly compelling stories have adversity of some kind for the protagonists to overcome and learn to grow. Yet Sjöberg and Winslow only have one central narrative, and nothing stands in the way of these two teenagers who get the money they need by stealing animals from the local zoo.
In short, The Falconer is not about the how, nor is it about these characters’ growth. No, it is more a matter of seeing how long it takes for them to accomplish their goal. This lack of drama makes sitting through the film quite an effort.
The Falconer is about being a human. It does not tell an exciting story but provides the audience with a relatable experience where compassion and trust become the universal language of the cosmos. The film might not be story-rich or revolutionary, but it’s humane and empathetic.
"…a relatable experience where compassion and trust become the universal language of the cosmos."