The Falling (2014 film)

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The Falling
UK theatrical release poster
Directed byCarol Morley
Produced by
  • Luc Roeg
  • Cairo Cannon
Written byCarol Morley
Music byTracey Thorn
CinematographyAgnes Godard[1]
Edited byChris Wyatt
Distributed byMetrodome UK
Release date
  • 11 October 2014 (2014-10-11) (London Film Festival)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$663,738[3]

The Falling is a 2014 British mystery drama film written and directed by Carol Morley. It stars Maisie Williams and Florence Pugh as best friends at an all-girls school. The film also stars Greta Scacchi, Monica Dolan, Maxine Peake, and Mathew Baynton. Production began in October 2013. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on 11 October 2014 and was released theatrically on 24 April 2015 in the UK.


In 1969, Lydia and Abbie are best friends at an English girls school. Lydia, the neglected daughter of an agoraphobic mother, becomes fixated on Abbie, who has begun to explore her sexuality. After having sex with Lydia's brother Kenneth in an attempt to abort her pregnancy by another boy, Abbie begins to suffer from fainting spells. She faints and goes into convulsons after a stint in detention with Lydia and dies in the process. Following Abbie's burial, Lydia begins suffering as well from fainting spells, and it soon becomes an epidemic, with numerous girls and a young teacher in the school spontaneously passing out for no more than a few seconds. Lydia becomes convinced that the administration must take action, much to the chagrin of the school principal.[4]

When an assembly becomes disrupted by a mass fainting episode, the school is temporarily shut down and all affected students are hospitalized and psychoanalysed. When no cause for the spells is discovered, the school is reopened and Lydia is expelled. That same night, the virginal Lydia has sex with Kenneth, with whom she has developed an incestuous relationship after Abbie's death. However their mother Eileen catches them and, armed with a pair of scissors, angrily forces Kenneth out of the house before launching into an argument with her daughter, in which she brands Lydia dangerous and that she ought to be locked up. Eileen also reveals that Lydia and Kenneth are only half-siblings; Lydia being the product of a rape.

Upon learning this, Lydia runs out of the house and Eileen follows her outside, despite having never ventured outside in over 16 years. Searching for Lydia, Eileen is overcome with flashbacks of her own sexual assault, and eventually locates Lydia; who has climbed to the top of a tree in a breakdown over Abbie's death. Eileen pleads with Lydia to come down, but she laughs, challenging her mother's lack of maternal affection, before losing her footing and leaping from the tree into a lake.

Distraught, Eileen ventures into the water and cradles Lydia's seemingly drowned body, realizing that her emotional frigidity had done more harm to her daughter than she knew. Lydia regains consciousness, and the film ends with the two women in a crying embrace.



BFI funded the film £750K.[5] Production began in October 2013.[6]

The soundtrack is by Tracey Thorn. Morley asked Thorn to provide the music for the film after editing had begun.[7]


The Falling premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on 11 October 2014.[8] It had a limited release in the United Kingdom, grossing £442,177 with a further £10,051 grossed in New Zealand.[9] US DVD sales amounted to another £6,406.[10]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 72% of 36 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.8/10.[11] Mark Adams of Screen International wrote, "It is a film that will resonate with some but leave others exasperated, but The Falling is certainly a bold film, and one to be admired and appreciated."[12] Guy Lodge of Variety called it "an imperfect but alluring study of psychological contagion that marks an auspicious advance in the field of narrative filmmaking for acclaimed documaker Carol Morley".[13] Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter called it "a flawed but fascinating period study of female friendship and hysteria".[14] Trevor Johnston of Time Out London rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "Carol Morley shows startling versatility and ambition with this jawdropping mash-up of If and Picnic at Hanging Rock".[15] Mike McCahill of The Daily Telegraph rated it 4/5 stars and called it a continuation of the themes in Nicolas Roeg's Performance and Don't Look Now.[16]

Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "Carol Morley's The Falling is beguiling and disturbing, a beautifully made and very subtle affair that combines melodrama, rites of passage and supernatural elements in an utterly intriguing way."[17] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian rated it 5/5 stars and wrote, "Director Carol Morley has come up with another brilliant and very distinctive feature, about an epidemic of fainting that grips a girls school in the 1960s."[18] Elise Nakhnikian of Slant Magazine gave a less favourable review, writing that "the film all leads to a melodramatic climax that wraps up the main character's explosive acting out in a too-neat package."[19] David Jenkins of Little White Lies also gave an unfavourable review, writing, "Carol Morley follows up the mesmerising Dreams of a Life with a tedious period drama set in an all-girls school."[20]


Award Category Nominee Result
London Film Festival 2014 Best British Newcomer and Best Film Florence Pugh and Official Competition Carol Morley Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Young British/Irish Performer Of The Year Maisie Williams[21] Won
Evening Standard British Film Awards Rising Star Maisie Williams[22] Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Falling". Twitter. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Carol Morley begins The Falling". Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  3. ^ "United Kingdom, US New Zealand Box Office". The Numbers. 12 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Independent Announces Start of Shoot for Carol Morley's Film The Falling". BBC Films. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  5. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (21 November 2013). "Get Santa, Bill get £1m from BFI". Screen Daily. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  6. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (28 October 2013). "Carol Morley's The Falling underway". Screen Daily. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  7. ^ Peter Bradshaw. "Carol Morley and Tracey Thorn: "Girls' schools? They're a hotpot of urges"". the Guardian.
  8. ^ Barraclough, Leo (3 September 2014). "Testament of Youth to World Premiere at London Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ "New Zealand Box Office for The Falling (2015)". The Numbers.
  10. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (2 September 2014). "Metrodome catches Carol Morley's The Falling". Screen Daily. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  11. ^ "The Falling (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  12. ^ Adams, Mark (11 October 2014). "The Falling". Screen International. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  13. ^ Lodge, Guy (17 October 2014). "London Film Review: 'The Falling'". Variety. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  14. ^ Felperin, Leslie (13 October 2014). "'The Falling': London Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  15. ^ Johnston, Trevor (20 April 2015). "The Falling". Time Out London. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  16. ^ McCahill, Mike (24 April 2015). "The Falling review: 'potently suggestive'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  17. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (24 April 2015). "The Falling, film review: Maisie Williams is top of the class for melodrama and mystery". The Independent. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  18. ^ "The Falling review – Carol Morley's masterly followup to Dreams of a Life". The Guardian. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  19. ^ Elise Nakhnikian (23 August 2015). "The Falling". Slant Magazine.
  20. ^ Little White Lies magazine. "The Falling review". Archived from the original on 19 September 2015.
  21. ^
  22. ^

External links[edit]