Falling in Love
- Robert De Niro as Frank Raftis
- Meryl Streep as Molly Gilmore
- Jane Kaczmarek as Ann Raftis
- David Clennon as Brian Gilmore
- Harvey Keitel as Ed
- Dianne Wiest as Isabelle
A gentle and subtle romantic drama, Falling in Love scores points for the pairing of Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. Yet it is often achingly slow and some of the dialogue is particularly trite. Goodness can be gleaned from the tentative story and some of it is darn effective in the emotional stakes, but I did expect a bit more from this film than it offered up.
While out shopping for Christmas presents for the respective families, New Yorkers Frank Raftis and Molly Gilmore meet accidentally and a result, their presents get switched. Both don’t think much of this first meeting as they are both happily married, so they continue with their work and families; Frank is an architect, while Molly is a graphic designer. On the train a few months after, they encounter each other again and strike up a conversation. They soon find that they have fun together, and from this point on they meet for friendly talks, often on the train or in a cosy bookshop. What neither Frank nor Molly intended or expected was that this friendship would soon evolve into feelings of love for the other. Even when they are apart, they can’t stop thinking of the other and their feelings only become more difficult to ignore. Although their relationship remains chaste, they have fallen deeply in love with each other unintentionally, which causes all matter of problems as both don’t know how best to deal with these pangs of romance without hurting anyone.
Director Ulu Grosbard manages to ring quite a bit of romance and bittersweet feeling from the largely predictable story, yet it can become a tad heavy-handed at times. He works best when setting up both Molly and Frank, having scenes mirror each other and give growing voice to the quickly growing infatuation. Which brings me on to the topic of the film’s execution, which is mainly one of subtle ruminations and underplayed pacing, that eventually drags in the attempts to be serious. I mean I am all for subtlety in movies, heck anyone who follows my blog will know that I am rather fond of subdued execution and natural delivery. But in Falling in Love, despite the fact that I really felt for both characters and their internal dilemmas, it was just a bit too subtle for its own good. For me, it needed something to pep it up a little and give it more power, instead of settling for the underplayed approach that became too slow. What Falling in Love does get right is a gentle emotion of uncertainty and trepidation for the main lovers, they are shown as ordinary people with complicated feelings, just like everyone else. Though the dialogue varied into clunky territory, the star power of De Niro and Streep helped make it somehow relatable and sincere. And the fact that their relationship remains one of deep love that can’t quite be fulfilled and is far from overly sexual was a bit of a refreshing break from the norm. While the slow and unraveling approach feels appropriate at first, it becomes laborious and then the film starts to feel hackneyed by clichés. The music provided was pleasing at first, but it felt just way to sweet and corny in moments that were supposed to be serious and romantic. I think I was just wanting a bit more from a film like this overall than what the full product emerged as, despite my liking of some of it.
If there is something that makes Falling in Love at least a film that registers on some level, it has to be the lovely performances from Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. They both convince as everyday people, who are taken aback and more than a little surprised by an unexplainable attraction that could spell bad things for their lives. Robert De Niro dials it down to play Frank as a decent man with a sense of humour and quiet depth that is most befitting of the character. Meryl Streep matches him with a sincere charm, flashes of humour and undercurrent of disbelief in what transpires between the two. They truly work beautifully together; hinting at the feelings between the two that for the most part can’t be acted upon, but are palpable. And their chemistry more than makes up for the slight script, breathing pathos into the dialogue with their respective skills and acting abilities. If there is a redeeming quality to Falling in Love, it lies within the work of these immensely talented actors. Jane Kaczmarek is well served with the role of Frank’s wife, who senses that something is going on, though David Clennon is a might too bland as Molly’s husband. Harvey Keitel and Dianne Wiest do what they can with their supporting roles, though the main thing you’ll remember from Falling in Love is De Niro and Streep.
The two main actors in Falling in Love are the biggest reasons for watching it, as well as the feelings it emits, but the whole production just lacks that extra bit of power to raise it higher. At least, Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep work beautifully together and ensure you feel for them.