Exploring the grungy and downbeat inner city world of Michæl (Darcy Belsher) and his best friend Kris (director, co-writer Martin Cummins), “We All Fall Down” qualifies as this year’s token “Urban Narcotics Drama” film.
Michæl is an odd little fellow. Still grieving the recent death of his mother, the struggling actor veers a zig-zagging course between drug-induced self-destruction and getting a grip on his life. That’s more than Kris can say. Though he’s an extremely talented painter blessed with the affections of his stunning girlfriend Ryan (Francoise Robertson), Kris’ abuse of crack and heroin threatens to totally consume him. Following a friend’s death in a drug-aided car crash, Michæl comes close to cracking before finally realizing that shooting up with Kris and their ditzy prostitute friend Sherry (Helen Shaver) isn’t exactly the chosen path to happiness. While Michæl attempts to clean up his life, Kris, on the other hand, simply becomes an even bigger wreck, eventually driving Ryan away…and straight into Michæl’s arms.
Here, finally, is where “We All Fall Down” emerges from the Quaalude-like stupor of its first forty minutes or so and begins to go somewhere. And not a moment too soon as it’s almost, but not quite, too late by then. Fortunately, like an Intervention performed on behalf of an addict, the second half of this film actually becomes interesting and saves it from the dust heap. It is against this effective background of drug abuse that Michæl must face up to his indiscretion: He’s broken the “Buddy Rule” by inadvertently swiping his best friend’s girl.
What’s remarkable about this film and other similar urban dramas, is that the trashier the filmmakers make the surroundings and the grainier the film stock they use, the more perversely glamorous the lifestyle Michæl and Kris have chosen seem to be. The horrors of inner city drug abuse somehow get reduced to great art design and cool wardrobe.
While Cummins and Robertson hold their own here, Belsher emerges as the most compelling reason to separate this film from its contemporaries. His slightly hunched shoulders, lightly nasal voice, and wide-eyed innocent face fuels the viewer’s growing empathy for a basically decent guy caught up in a mess of his own making. As the title indicates, we all do fall down. Michæl shows us that that’s okay, as long as we remember to pick ourselves back up again.