Freier Fall – Not in Brokeback Class

Thanks to Brokeback Mountain (2005), depictions of sexual and romantic relationships between macho adult men is no longer a novelty on the big screen.

Or as some angry grandmas in America would complain, gay porn went mainstream in 2005. 😉

Ang Lee explored the doomed relationship between two cowboys so beautifully that no one was surprised when Brokeback Mountain picked up multiple Oscars and Golden Globes in 2006.

Since Freier Fall (German, 2013) has been touted as the “German answer to Brokeback Mountain,” comparisons between the two films are inevitable.

Freier Fall

While German film Freier Fall (English title: Free Fall) traipses down the same ‘gay’ road, this time the rugged, macho men are two young beefy police officers Marc Borgmann (Hanno Koffler) and Kay Engel (Max Riemelt).

Stephan Lacant directed the film based on the screenplay he co-wrote with Karsten Dahlem.

Brokeback Mountain was set in 1960s America while Freier Fall plays out in present day Germany.

Marc’s girlfriend is pregnant and the couple is expecting their first child when Kay initiates an initially reluctant Marc into a relationship that quickly turns sexual.

As the title of the movie suggests, Marc’s life soon starts to unravel, first at home and eventually at the police station as well, once he embarks on a secret liaison with Kay.

Several Issues

Freier Fall is not a bad movie overall but falls way short of Brokeback Mountain in several respects.

More than anything, it lacked the subtlety and class of Brokeback Mountain.

I also found some aspects of Freier Fall unconvincing.

The show of extreme homophobia both at the police station and in Marc’s home seemed very odd considering that homosexuality is no longer a taboo thing in the West today like it was in the early 1960s (setting for Brokeback Mountain).

In the West, the gay movement has made considerable strides in its fight for equal rights, anti-discrimination and social acceptance over the last three decades.

When Marc’s mother stumbles on her son kissing Kay, the shocked woman walks off in a huff and later tells her son in the car: “This is not the way we raised you.”

Hello, this is 2013 (movie release year).

Then there’s what I call the ‘fast forward’ trap that countless movies fall into – Directors rushing to get to the ‘meat’ of the movie without setting a proper context or explanation.

For instance, what does the handsome Kay find so appealing in the not-so-handsome Marc that he kisses him on the jogging trail at the police academy and eventually ends up in the same department as Marc.

And why does Marc respond after initially rebuffing Kay’s advances?

We have no clue.

Another vexing aspect is that character development of Kay gets short shrift once the relationship starts.

Between Max Riemelt and Hanno Koffler, I felt Max was a superior actor. Unfortunately, Max is stuck with the lesser role.

Visually too, Freier Fall lacks the appeal of Brokeback Mountain with its panoramic mountainous setting.

And Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are obviously far superior actors.

But Freier Fall has some virtues.

It brings up the conflicted personality of the hitherto-heterosexual Marc struggling with his attraction for a man (I am not gay…it was just an affair) with some degree of realism.

I also liked the fact that there was an element of unpredictability in the ending.

Freier Fall is available at Netflix should you care to watch it.

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