Nick Ferrucci and Benjamin Farmer return as R.J. and Chris in this 2013 sequel to 2012’s The Falls about two Mormon missionaries whose mission work turns into an ongoing romance.
Set five years after their mission work in the first movie, The Falls: Testament of Love finds their lives having gone in two completely different directions. R.J. is a magazine editor and writer living in Seattle. He’s in a new relationship with a man named Paul (Thomas Stroppel) and has separated himself from the Mormon Church. Meanwhile, Chris has opted to remain a part of the Church by putting his same-sex attraction aside, becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep and getting married to a woman named Emily (Hannah Barefoot) – with whom he now has a young daughter.
The two reunite under unfortunate circumstances – the death of their mutual friend Rodney, whom they had tried to convert during their mission work.
R.J. uses this opportunity to try and get closure with Chris – who cut off all contact with him after their romance was discovered, but Chris wants to keep any communication with R.J. to a minimum in order to honor his renewed commitments to family and faith. Chris does agree to a catchup meeting with R.J. and it sparks something in him that he hadn’t felt in those five years since their mission work. Shortly after their meeting, R.J. finds himself at Chris’s house in Salt Lake City trying to become a part of his life once again — or to at least get the closure he doesn’t necessarily want but will take in order to move on.
Of course, RJ’s presence in Salt Lake City complicates things for Chris. His hard line stance against any further communication with R.J. starts to crack – revealing his lingering struggle with same-sex attraction and eventually a complete revelation about the pain behind it.
And when Emily finds out that R.J. is more than just a visiting friend, Chris has to re-face his past and confront it in the present to lead him into an uncertain future for himself, for his family and with R.J.
As was the case with The Falls, The Falls: Testament to Love isn’t an outright indictment of the Mormon Church, but merely a reflection of it as it relates to its ongoing stance on homosexuality. Behind that, Testament to Love digs deeper into the conflict between one’s spirituality and one’s sexuality with the added layer of how such a stance can have deleterious effects on people’s lives.
Fans of The Falls will find The Falls: Testament of Love to be a very satisfying continuation of the A.J./Chris story (there is now a third film in the series). Writer/producer/director Jon Garcia has crafted a wonderful story of love, acceptance, choice and reconciliation which builds upon itself to an ending that gives you enough to not be slighted by it but not too much so that you don’t wonder what the future may or may not hold for R.J. and Chris. From there, Garcia pulls out stellar performances from Ferrucci and Farmer (who, particularly in a monologue about his lingering struggle with same-sex attraction, is even better here than in the original – and he was great in the original) as well as Barefoot and Bruce Jennings as Chris’s father Noah. Special mention should also be made of Mercedes Rose as Chris’s mother Debbie – whose own monologue at the end of the film is not only the beautiful stuff coming out stories are made for, but also an exquisite encapsulation of Chris’s journey in this highly recommended film.
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Jon Garcia