“International Falls” is an excellent example of how it doesn’t take a massive budget to create an entertaining film.
The film, directed by Amber McGinnis, doesn’t feature any bombastic superheroes or giant robots. No, “International Falls” is much simpler than all of that, and yet it still provides an incredible amount of depth that will resonate with most viewers.
The story of this film follows two people in the small, snowy town of International Falls. The town, which lies near the Canadian border, is one where nothing really happens. It’s a small community of people who are happy with their lives and have little desire to leave their hometown. Dee, however, feels differently. Played by Rachael Harris, Dee feels as if she never got the chance to chase her dreams or live her life. Now a middle-aged woman, her husband is cheating on her, and her job at the local hotel is far from satisfying.
Dee gets a glimpse at the outside world when she befriends Tim, played by Rob Huebel, a touring comedian who performed in the hotel bar. Tim is also sorely missing a sense of fulfillment in his life. He’s in the middle of a divorce, constantly on the road and appears to be verging on alcoholism. Through each other, Dee and Tim gain new perspectives. They see life through an entirely different point of view, which allows them to decide who they want to be and to grow as individuals.
Though “International Falls” has a simple premise, the emotional resonance of these characters makes it an incredibly engaging, entertaining and surprisingly complex film that shouldn’t be written off.
What makes the film work well is its focus on the people. Dee, Tim and the variety of supporting characters around the town each have fleshed-out personalities and motivations. While Dee is a strong character who wants more out of life, her husband Gary is a bit of a pushover who takes what he has for granted. By allowing even the most minor characters, such as a local policeman or liquor store employee, to have their moments to shine, “International Falls” establishes this town as a real place with real people living in it. It feels like a town you could actually visit, which in turn makes the struggles of Dee and Tim even more believable.
With a film as character-focused as this, “International Falls” could have completely fallen apart if the performances weren’t worthwhile. Fortunately, every performance in this film is utterly fantastic. Harris and Huebel are both excellently cast in the lead roles. By giving somewhat reserved and subtle performances, they bring a sense of genuineness to the characters.
“International Falls” is a film that, while not groundbreaking, is certainly worth a watch. It might not be an over-the-top, crazy action flick like the ones which seem to crowd cineplexes lately, but it provides an arguably more emotionally fulfilling experience. It’s a simple idea that was executed very well, making it a legitimately memorable experience.