By Amy R. Handler | February 22, 2014

When an overly ambitious college professor risks it all to follow an obsession, he finds himself on a curious road of no return. But just who is controlling the strings of fate is another story entirely.

Don Swanson’s thirty-minute dramatic-thriller, Fallen, is a moral tale about a man named Joel (John-Patrick Driscoll) and his wife Brandi (Elsa Carette). Together they live a seemingly idyllic life in a country town. Joel is a college professor set on locating the lost manuscript of a famous poet from years past. To this end, he willingly risks his marriage, finances, and his tenure. Not surprisingly the beautiful but neglected Brandi finds herself a lover (Dustin Helton), Joel gets fired, and walks in on his wife and her beau, at the family home. But it’s what happens next that’s totally off the charts of human and cinematic comprehension.

Whether or not Fallen works as a short-form film is of course up to each viewer. As for my opinion, I don’t think it does, in spite of the fact that the actors are all excellent, and Swanson has extended his film far longer than most shorts should run. As is common in short films that flounder and fall (no pun intended), there’s too much story for the space provided. In other words, the philosophical, sociological and moral issues provoked would cinematically succeed better as a feature-length. Also, several scenes drag overtime, making the film feel clumsily top-heavy in spots, and cause the conclusion to feel anticlimactic, unnatural and rushed.

Oddly, Fallen’s true strength is the very thing that causes the film to fail—its writing. This only fuels my point that if the movie were recreated in feature-form, it would be a speculative-thriller of radical proportions. Other critical viewers might disagree, but I’d certainly purchase an expensive ticket to see Swanson’s remake, and sit in the front row at the theater.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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