As if being born a leap year baby wasn’t challenging enough, waiting four years for a birthday, Gorin (Michael Lawrence Eisenstein) is also the victim of some seriously bad luck when those birthdays come around. One birthday, his sister tragically died. Another birthday, his father left his family. With his sixth birthday on deck (in other words, nearing 24 years worth of life), the eccentric Gorin sets about making sure that this one will be trauma-free. Unfortunately for Gorin, his attempts to make the birthday perfect may only doom him further.
Sonal Naroth’s short film, Tumbling After, is a quirky tale of dark whimsy. Years of misfortune have left Gorin an eccentric who still interacts with the ghost of his dead sister, corresponds by mail with his missing father (or someone writing for his missing father) and generally alienates his mother, who desperately wants to make a real connection with her strange son.
The use of a sometimes unconventional-sounding musical score perfectly matches the eccentricity of the bow-tie-friendly Gorin, and the overall narration makes the film feel like a tragic Amélie. The composition is strong and interesting, and the art direction appropriately affected for Gorin’s personality and story.
The main criticism I have of the film is directed at the character of Gorin. He’s so far up his own ass about his birthday, albeit he does have his reasons, that he’s not a character that garners any sympathy. Instead, you feel disconnected from him and his selfish take on life, and it saps the strength of the narrative turns to come. Then again, knowing how important his birthday is, the tragedies that have ensued in his life, particularly since his sister’s death, are equally selfish and ill-timed (I mean, wait one damn day).
The end result is a feeling that you’ve watched a peculiar short film, with extremely dark and tragic elements, that is competent, but not necessarily fulfilling. Tumbling After is not a bad film, but it seems to shortchange the punch of its ending with a characters that wind up being too selfish for cinematic sympathy. The film is ultimately a bleak curiosity.
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