One of the toughest things about movies that deal with affairs is not the likability of the characters, but in how we as an audience feel about the choices the characters make in order to start the affair. People may not agree with many of the choices made by characters in How He Fell in Love, but thanks to some wonderful acting and a solid script, the movie doesn’t fall to pieces.
The clandestine affair between Travis and Ellen starts off at a wedding no less. Both are in attendance for different reasons (Travis is the ex of the bride, Ellen is only there because of her husband), but it is enough to get them into orbit with each other and spark. The spark eventually grows into a flame as the two begin an affair that makes them feel as though they are both alive.As the affair goes on, naturally things come to a head in both of their lives and they are forced to reconcile what they are with who they want to be.
The script for this film is solid and writer/Director Marc Meyers brilliantly sets up the characters at the wedding and initial car ride, so that when they begin their casual affair (and I mean casual, Meyers thankfully doesn’t waste time on “the moment” the affair starts) we can just mosey right along into the tale. Even when the movie moves into predictable territory, i.e. we know the affair can’t last forever, Meyes has so grounded the narrative that it still feels like a fresh unique take.
Where the movie struggles is when the characters begin to give voice to their inner turmoil in stretches of dialogue that don’t land with the weight they need to because they are often on the nose. I found myself being miffed It’s much more powerful to see Travis breaking a guitar or Ellen is being overcome by emotion the night of their get away trip, than to hear them shout their actual motivations. particularly Ellen, whose backstory is interjected in a way that works but doesn’t feel entirely emotionally honest.
However, the movie rests very much on the acting, and luckily for us, the actors more than prove their worth. Matt McGorry has been on TV a lot the past few years with orange is the New Black and How to Get Away with Murder, and this movie is another good step in his career. He has the unique ability to play dualities: the dopey love interest/the seducer, the concern man/douchey man child; each of these come right to the forefront through the character of Travis because Matt is so locked in. He had to be, or he would have gotten his doors blown off by the force that is Amy Hargreaves, who thoroughly owns this film. As Ellen she has a difficult role, the married one of the two affair having people, but she rises to the occasion so well. Hargreaves manages to leave you wrecked whether she in combative mode or is quiet and contemplative, and its a wonderful performance to sit through.
Originally published at Awards Circuit