Freier Fall
Directed by Stephan Lacant
Germany, 2013

Originally published, with zero likes, on Letterboxd.

Kay, a handsome gay cop with a buzz cut, begins aggressively pursuing a colleague during routine training, without knowing he has a pregnant girlfriend. He uses a number of adolescent-male dominance moves, like challenging him physically and calling him a pussy. The equally handsome colleague, Marc, responds in kind and pushes back.

Kay invites him for a jog, ostensibly because Marc needs to work on his breathing while running. They share a joint and Kay attempts a kiss, which Marc rebuffs: “Are you crazy?” he says. But after accepting a second invitation to jog with Kay in the same deserted forest, Marc is eventually forced to have sex with him — a quick handjob to be exact, which Marc at first resists but then his arousal is so sudden and sure and he comes so quickly, he’s thrown for a loop and succumbs. I don’t know any other way to read that scene, without calling it a rape outright. I suspect that tension is why the scene is hot. We know that Marc has a girlfriend but we also know that he’s intrigued by Kay’s pursuit. But does that mean that Kay had a right to force him? Is Marc getting what he really wanted?

So the setup is complicated, to say the least, as is any easy identification with the anticipated and usually desirable coming-out scenario, which never really happens even though Kay expects it to and probably many viewers do, too. After the couple begins a passionate affair. our own responses to the film turn around the various possible interpretations of that first sex act, or whether we notice anything out of the ordinary about it at all. Maybe a better way of saying that is: our responses depend on who we think is the bigger asshole.

The conflicts in the rest of the narrative are not dramatized so well. Obviously, Marc wants to hide the affair from everyone, not least his pregnant lover, but he also throws himself into it — accompanying Kay to a gay bar, taking ecstasy with him, coming home late, avoiding his responsibilities as a partner to a pregnant woman and pointedly, accepting a key to Kay’s flat. But he doesn’t hide it that well, taking phone calls from Kay within earshot of his girlfriend. So he either wants to be caught or we can attribute these stupid risks as bad writing. I’m not sure. I just found the first half of the movie far more compelling than the second, during which all the straight people in his life ask him direct questions about where he’s been and with whom, and that’s supposed to constitute drama.

The two male leads share a genuine rapport and conjure believable sexual chemistry.  They’re directed appropriately for their disparate levels of experience with same-sex love. There are a couple intimate scenes in which Marc strokes and outlines Kay’s face with his fingers and hands in wonder and discovery. It works beautifully. But Marc’s love for his newborn son and his girlfriend rings true as well. So without putting a name to it, the film depicts bisexuality effectively — or ambisexuality, as writer James Neill would have it.

There are a number of notable, even affecting, elements in this film but it just didn’t quite gel for me, not least because it turns away from the implications of the first sex scene, but I still think it’s worth a look.