The Fall of 1980: Film Review

This contemporary variation on "The Big Chill" would have benefited from some Motown tunes.

Ryan Lonergan's debut feature concerns the emotion-charged reunion of a group of millennial generation friends.

The Fall of 1980 is a movie that actually comes with an advance reading list. The publicity notes for Ryan Lonergan’s debut feature advise that it was inspired by no less than five classic novels, including The Age of Innocence, Sister Carrie and The Wings of a Dove.

But despite its professed literary provenance, this millennial generation variation on The Big Chill, concerning the Idaho-set reunion in 2010 of a group of longtime friends, bears scant resemblance to its inspirations, other than the fact that it’s very, very talky.

The weekend gathering is instigated by wounded Iraq war veteran Thomas (Garret McKechnie) to celebrate his engagement to his Russian nurse, Tasia (Alyssa Rae). Unfortunately for both him and for viewers, his mostly well-heeled guests arrive bearing not so much gifts as enough personal crises to fuel a dozen movies.

That it all proves totally uninvolving is a testament to the convoluted script, subpar technical aspects and mostly amateurish performances by a cast of young unknowns. The various emotional issues on display, of both the relationship and professional variety, provoke more groans than empathy.

The well-trod theme of youthful innocence giving way to middle-aged malaise hardly seems convincing considering that most of the characters are merely on the cusp of turning thirty. It’s an example of the unearned serious and pretentiousness endemic to the proceedings.

Opens Nov. 15 (Newland Entertainment)

Cast: Casey Christensen, Jimmy Clabots, Ellen Etten, Jennifer Flynn, Allison Karman, Ryan Lonergan, Garrett mcKechnie, Alyssa Rae, Jonathan Rosetti, Erin Anne Williams, Ryan Young

Director/screenwriter: Ryan Lonergan

Producers: Ryan Lonergan, Erin Anne Williams

Executive producers: Michael Kaupp, Donald Prime, Amy Lipeles, Richard Lipeles, Richard Merkin

Director of photography: George Su

Editors: Eric Greenburg, Ryan Lonergan, Adam W. Weber

Production designers: Ryan Lecinski, Casey Christensen

Costume designer: Ally Felice

Not rated, 87 min.