REVIEW: ‘International Falls’ is a strong, amusing look at a stark situation

This small Minnesota city on the Canadian border has a few claims to fame. It was the inspiration for Frostbite Falls in Rocky and Bullwinkle, it’s officially known as the Icebox of the Nation for its cold temperatures, the high school hockey team has a rich history winning seven state titles and it was the home of National Football League legend Bronko Nagurski.

I can’t say I was ever really expecting my hometown to be the setting for a motion picture, though. Yes, before leaving for college, the setting of this dramatic comedy was where I was born and raised.

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Like the frigid air that comes around every winter in my hometown, this movie offers a harsh reality, making it ripe for drama.

The film has two primary characters, with one being a resident of the Falls and the other being a visitor. Dee (Rachael Harris) is the local, working front desk at a hotel. Tim (Rob Huebel), meanwhile, is a comedian on tour, who’s in town for a few days to perform a couple shows.

He stays at the hotel Dee works at and the two form a relationship. As part of that relationship, the two learn a lot about each other, including how Dee is handling a matter in her strained marriage.

“International Falls” is a movie all about the human condition when someone is sort of stuck in a rut. As a result, it has all the laughs and tears that can come with that situation.

A sort of double character study, “Falls” explores aspects of loneliness, depression, goals and dreams through both of the leads, and their relationship. It does so with a very strong script, written by Thomas Ward. The writing doesn’t hold any punches, as the film gets into all sorts of territory, whether it be raunchy or dark, yet it all serves a purpose in terms of advancing the feelings of the protagonists.

IFalls Blog
Courtesy Outskirt Media.

While it’s somewhat subtle because of some of the subject matter, the humor in “Falls” is also on point. It’s the type of humor that is all about real life, and at times, awkward, human moments.

“I Falls” isn’t without its drawbacks. While the movie as a whole is strong, there is a development in the third act that seemed somewhat unnecessary. It isn’t exactly a bad thing, but it just shakes the film’s structure a bit.

Another issue is how the movie was shot in some instances. There are a few sequences where “Falls” has a sort of shaky look to it, with the camera not staying still. There are a few moments where it’s somewhat distracting.

However, this is still a strong flick, especially thanks to the two leads. The heavy emotions these characters are going through come to the screen in superb fashion thanks to Harris and Huebel. Both are strong in their roles.

“International Falls” is a fine independent feature from director Amber McGinnis.. It features deep characters and the movie explores their psyche quite well, lending humor as part of the presentation. This one earns a 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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