Falling - Regarding Henry

Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby starlight » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:17 pm

Lots of slack-jawed and hormonal drooling visible on this site of late. *guilty as charged*. I blame the dearth of new work from The Man. Boredom breeds bad habits. I apologise for my part in the drooling. :eyeroll:

Steeling my resolve to do much better in the future (till the next time, anyway), I’m wondering whether anyone would care to join me in a “spectacles-on, sleeves-rolled-up” exchange of views on Falling? :geek:

Falling – 2005 - MK, Penelope Wilton
Writer – Andrew Davies
based on a novel by Elizabeth Jane Howard (RIP)


Regarding Henry

I watched Falling for the second time last night, and it won’t be the last by any means. But I have to admit, grudgingly, that the one critic kitchenfoyle refers to in her Tumblr post (which, in turn, points us to an article quoted on NothingFancy.com etc etc) might, in fact, have had a good point when he registered unease about how well the drama worked in toto.

What the critic :ugeek: says is this:

But, while the ideas in Falling worked well, it was less successful as a character study. The main problem, I think, was a most unexpected one: Michael Kitchen's performance. Kitchen was as good as ever when Henry was being horrible. Unfortunately, he just wasn't charming or plausible enough when Henry was being nice. This duly meant that we could never understand why Daisy fell for him so quickly and heavily. Worse, it made her appear ultimately a bit of a dope - which I don't think was the idea.

A Dangerous Liaison - The Telegraph; March 7, 2005; James Walton


:eek: Now, as a fan, it’s hard for me to read this sort of thing. But something jarred for me about Falling too, and Mr Walton’s words did set me thinking.

After rumination, though, I came to the conclusion that the problem lay in the uncomfortable coexistence of two styles of storytelling in one drama. That being the case, the fault would have to lie with either writing or direction, not, I’d argue with MK’s performance. :cool:

On the level of a character study, I would disagree with Mr Walton anyway, for I think that Falling works extremely well in that regard... for Henry. Henry speaks to camera—a technique I believe is known as "breaking the fourth wall". Other examples of this cinematic peculiarity would be Michael Caine in Alfie, and Albert Finney in Tom Jones. So it surely can’t be a coincidence that, as part of the plot of Falling, the novel Tom Jones lands in young Henry’s hands in flashback.

There’s the nub. The writer, Andrew Davies (I’m assuming that this angle is a quirk of the screenplay, not of E J Howard’s book), is peddling the Tom Jones analogy, both psychologically—Henry thinks that he’s the hero of a novel, moving through the action in a bubble of his own revolting ego—and in terms of style of presentation—breaking that invisible fourth wall. This being so, and given the intention of the writer, MK delivers the only performance that it’s possible to give. And I would argue that, as ever, it is best-of-breed. :mushy:

The fourth-wall-breaching style is used to lay bare Henry’s psychopathic nature, operating as he does with warped perspective and complete-and-utter lack of distance from himself. Mild forms of this condition are a fundament of human nature, but the conversations with the camera, and the flashbacks show that Henry is a veritable basket case-in-point. His is, and of necessity, a jarring figure in a world of flawed-but-normal folk. And that’s exactly how he comes across, in nearly every scene where he appears.

Examine the effect he has on other personages in the drama: instant dislike from Daisy’s friends. The writing and direction, though, elects to render them as such appalling snobs in Henry’s company, I found I actually rooted for him. The writing and direction chose to “give” those scenes to Henry.

Daisy is the only other character to be granted “point of view” within the drama, but the all-important ”fourth wall” never breaks for her. She’s left to make her mark in voiceover. Now, I would argue that, for Falling to succeed as chilling drama, Daisy’s point of view should have been the only one. That would have then allowed for a more subtle interpretation of Henry. The fourth-wall technique that lets Henry dominate the story is directly at odds with that aim, and, as Mr Walton says, undermines the Daisy angle, making her “appear... a bit of a dope”.

But (c'mon!) to shoot MK for a questionable choice made by the screenwriter is hardly fair! :rantblue:

The issue with Falling boils down to a question of perspective. In every scene the audience needs to understand whose game it is, and that’s not always clear. That has to be a flaw in the direction. Blame the actor? I think not.

Unfortunately, he just wasn't charming or plausible enough when Henry was being nice.


...says Mr Walton of The Telegraph. I know which scenes he means, and even as I watched, they set me wondering the same. Henry’s behaviour does indeed jar; in nearly every scene he strikes a false note. No woman in her right mind would be taken in. But a nuanced actor such as Mr K understands too well the difference between broad and subtle to be caught out in this way. Again, my suspicion lies with the writing, given that those very scenes are overlaid with Henry voiceovers that mark them as his territory in the drama. As such, they cannot also work from Daisy’s angle too.

Falling then, for me, is an uneasy marriage of styles. And there’s the problem. For the drama to work evenly, either Andrew Davies should have knocked down that fourth wall for Daisy too, or he shouldn’t have removed it for the charmingly revolting Henry in the first place.

So right back atcha, Mr Walton of The Telegraph. The reputation of The Man remains unblemished in my eyes. :ten:
But thanks for shocking my brain into gear, at least.

Starlight :rose:

What does anybody else think? :writer:
Last edited by starlight on Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby Lynnedean » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:23 pm

Starlight, I can't contribute any deep insight into the drama, I'm afraid. I never analyse fiction to that extent - little crit here and there, but that's it. I don't get any pleasure peeling layers off the onion. Boring to some, I know, but that's me. :eyeroll:

Will say, though, that I agree with the reviewer: I've never understood why Daisy would be attracted to Henry as he presented himself. To me, he was altogether too creepy from the off; there were warning lights flashing all around him. All I can think is that Daisy was lonely and that made her rather less than discerning in Henry's case, or that Mr K misjudged the playing of the character, or that's how the director wanted it played.

Re the asides to camera, it's an Andrew Davies thing - e.g. Urquhart in House Of Cards.

Incidentally, going by the Radio Times report of the making of the drama (can be found on TMKS), Elizabeth Jane Howard thought Penelope Wilton had misjudged the reading of her character, thinking her a little too drippy! (Apologies for not giving exact quote and reference; I'd look it up, but my eye is on the clock - second ep of new Sherlock is on in fifteen minutes! ... runs off to turn on the telly ...)
Last edited by Lynnedean on Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby starlight » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:31 pm

OK - great start from Lynne. Anybody out there NOT watching Sherlock? :rofl:
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby dcfoylefan » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:35 pm

Ok, I just saw Falling for the first time last week. I'm so smitten for MK I would have followed him just about anywhere. Even with all that creepy, jangly, here-comes-a-bad-guy soundtrack in the background.

I can't help it. He's just so stinking cute. And in flannel shirts? I can hardly help myself.

Felt the same way about The Guilty too. He couldn't have been more dreadful to poor Doc Martin's wife, but when he stuck his hands in his pockets and sidled up to her...Sigh.

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby kitchentease » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:27 pm

I tend to agree with James Walton, Starlight, I didn't find MK plausible as Henry. Firstly, IMHO he doesn't really do accents that well and, as Henry, he wobbled between public school and something less "cultured." That works for the character (at least the back story Henry tells) but I found it annoying. Secondly, much as there was melting, drooling on this site and KF's over the bedroom scene, I don't think there were any sparks (even temporary role-playing ones) between MK and Penelope Wilton, and it showed. Reading your analysis, perhaps the blame does lie more with direction/script than MK's acting but, apart from the "Asian babes" scene which is truly a classic, I give this one a thumbs down - sorry :obsessed: MK fans :sad:
But, what does the brain matter....compared to the heart?
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby Jillybean » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:21 pm

I don't agree that MK didn't play Henry as charming or plausible (when being nice) but I do think that the character of Henry was not meant to be realistically charming or plausible.

As viewers we were 'in the know' of Henry's Alfie-type character, which is presented fairly early on with the fourth wall asides. Therefore what Daisy saw as a charming local gentleman, we were meant to see an obsequious, morally bankrupt, creepy chappy.

If it was the director's intention that MK play 'nice Henry' as creepily as he could then he did an incredibly good job :thumbsup:

Not being biased in the least :wink:
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby Lynnedean » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:02 am

kitchentease wrote:I don't think there were any sparks (even temporary role-playing ones) between MK and Penelope Wilton, and it showed.

You've hit the nail on the head, KT! Apart from Henry not really coming over as the charmer he was supposed to be, there's a definite "flatness" in the scenes between the two main characters - there's no spark, no rapport, between the actors, and it certainly showed in the bedroom scene. The casting may have looked good on paper, but it didn't work on screen.

Have now found the comment about Penelope Wilton's portrayal of Daisy made by Elizabeth Jane Howard during the filming of the drama. While Ms Howard was watching a scene on the director's monitor with Andrew Davies, she remarked of the actress, "Do you think she might be overplaying the droopiness?" All the more interesting when it's remembered that Ms Howard based the character of Daisy on herself. Penelope Wilton is hailed as a great actress, but I've never understood why, as, personally, I've always found her to be rather "droopy", even in Doctor Who!
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby starlight » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:40 pm

Lynnedean wrote:
kitchentease wrote:I don't think there were any sparks (even temporary role-playing ones) between MK and Penelope Wilton, and it showed.

... The casting may have looked good on paper, but it didn't work on screen.

Have now found the comment about Penelope Wilton's portrayal of Daisy made by Elizabeth Jane Howard during the filming of the drama. While Ms Howard was watching a scene on the director's monitor with Andrew Davies, she remarked of the actress, "Do you think she might be overplaying the droopiness?" All the more interesting when it's remembered that Ms Howard based the character of Daisy on herself. Penelope Wilton is hailed as a great actress, but I've never understood why, as, personally, I've always found her to be rather "droopy", even in Doctor Who!
... TMKS: "Fool for Love" Radio Times, March 2005

Hmm. :puzzled: You have to ask yourself, if two good actors fail to satisfy in the same script, where lies the cause?

I didn't mind PW's 'droopiness' myself. She simply came across as someone who was hurt, and buttoned-up, in something of a daze. EJH, understandably, would have worried, though, at being seen as 'droopy' by association. :oops:

The chemistry did fail though, and I think that might have been because PW's instinct was to hold her character back from liking someone who was "laying it on thick" - which, no denying, was the way that MK filled the role, as scripted.

The merits of the drama, per se, don't particularly interest me either, Lynne. What interests me more is why it failed with such a good cast. :huh:

To digress slightly, I've another interesting little detail that might amuse people. :ugeek: Falling's really getting to me now, and I've just finished watching it a third time (on this occasion, with the other half - which wouldn't normally be a relevant detail, but in this particular instance, it is, because...) In the flashback sequence where Henry bumps into Daphne in a second-hand bookshop, the camera lingers for a few seconds on a volume propped up in the window. The title of the book would have completely passed by me by... except, my other half is a philatelist, and he immediately pointed out the book was
J Dorn's "The Forged Stamps of All Countries"
"Aha!" he goes. "I think somebody's bought herself a dud!" :lol:

OK. Perhaps that sort of thing is only funny to a philatelist. But then he cracked my up by asking. "Do you think he's on the level?" As if it weren't completely obvious.
:waiting: It's a "man" thing...

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby mohairMK » Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:20 am

starlight wrote:
[i]Falling
then, for me, is an uneasy marriage of styles. And there’s the problem. For the drama to work evenly, either Andrew Davies should have knocked down that fourth wall for Daisy too, or he shouldn’t have removed it for the charmingly revolting Henry in the first place.
So right back atcha, Mr Walton of The Telegraph. The reputation of The Man remains unblemished in my eyes.

I find this point very valid. It was not the fault of MK that the movie was directed and produced in this manner. The decision to put Henry in first place, and Daisy as an "also ran", which is the general opinion one can get from this movie, were out of HIS hands. Given the circumstances, I think MK put as charming a face on a nasty character as possible and no one could have done it better. Daisy comes off looking helpless and dazed, without the intelligence to recognize the obvious warning signs Kent had swirling all around him.

I agree that the sparks do not fly between Kent and Daisy, she in fact does not LOOK very excited by him at all. I think the drooling over the bedroom scene was more about fans seeing MK in that position (give fans points for imagination!), rather than a hot romance between the two of them.

No mention has ever been made, however, about Kent's childhood. It was obvious from the movie that he had an abusive father, not that that gives Henry any excuse for what he continually does. It has been noted that "hurt people, hurt people", and those who have been abused, will in turn abuse others. Just an aside...
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby Wolesley » Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:28 am

mohairMK wrote:No mention has ever been made, however, about Kent's childhood... It has been noted that "hurt people, hurt people", and those who have been abused, will in turn abuse others.


Indeed, one of Henry's lines, in trying to excuse his violence against Daisy, was, "Damage means damage," referring to abuse he suffered as a child, but even in saying that, Henry was insincere and not credible, and not willing to get help.

In re-reading this discussion, I agree with Starlight that the drama might have been improved considerably if Daisy had been able to break the fourth wall, too. Would have counteracted the 'droopiness' factor a lot.

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby mohairMK » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:06 am

Wolesley wrote:I agree with Starlight that the drama might have been improved considerably if Daisy had been able to break the fourth wall, too. Would have counteracted the 'droopiness' factor a lot.


That's true, it would have; and shown her character to be the intelligent, self-supportive kind she would have had to have been to be the successful novelist she was.

Yeah, Henry did try to excuse his behavior quite often in this movie, having somewhat bizarre ideas about himself. I don't think he thought he needed help, or needed to change, but instead blamed others for the way he was.

I just wondered what other people thought about Henry's abusive childhood, and if / how that had shaped him into the creep that he was. I wonder if / how he would have been different had he been treated differently by his father.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby starlight » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:48 am

mohairMK wrote:Yeah, Henry did try to excuse his behavior quite often in this movie, having somewhat bizarre ideas about himself. I don't think he thought he needed help, or needed to change, but instead blamed others for the way he was.

I just wondered what other people thought about Henry's abusive childhood, and if / how that had shaped him into the creep that he was. I wonder if / how he would have been different had he been treated differently by his father.

Good to see this thread waking up again, Mo. Yes it's an interesting question. Some recent events caused me to look up "psychotic", just so as to get a few things straight in my head:
Psychosis: A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

There's an element of Henry there. Also paranoia (loosely expressed = Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!*).

Over breakfast as I was typing this, my partner remarked that he thought there was a lot of both about. More than people realise :awkward: . And yes, I suppose Henry's dad was heavily to blame. Part-time cynic and almost-poet-laureate Philip Larkin wrote a poem on the subject. This be the Verse. You've probably heard it before.

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby jewell » Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:02 pm

Henry Kent is a psychopath, plain and simple. He doesn't see the need to change because there is nothing wrong with him. He believes that other people are either like him or are weak and put there for his exploitation.

I too, believe there are many of these types among us. We don't recognize them because we can't conceive that they don't have the same feelings as we do.

Read about Ted Bundy, or watch the show Dexter, a psychopath who learned by rote to act like a normal person.

MK does an exceptional job playing a psychopath and looks fantastic doing it. I am a big fan of Falling - at least of all the scenes MK is in. (For whatever reason I especially detest the "flashback" scenes - gratuitous sex, anyone?)

I take it as a black comedy. Really, his monologue on love in the opening scene is a howl, especially watching it after learning about Henry. And it plays so well because the character believes what he's saying. He loved Daisy and doesn't understand what went wrong.

Just my opinion.

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby Wolesley » Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:34 pm

starlight wrote:Some recent events caused me to look up "psychotic"


And thereby hangs a tale... :shock: :rofl:

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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby kitchentease » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:54 pm

To add to this discussion, there is an interesting analysis of "Falling" as an example of a relationship between a co-dependent woman and narcissistic man here http://prairiemary.blogspot.ca/2008/01/falling-for-michael-kitchen.html. Apologies if this has already been posted under another thread (it's several years old) but I couldn't find it.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby starlight » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:05 am

kitchentease wrote:To add to this discussion, there is an interesting analysis of "Falling" as an example of a relationship between a co-dependent woman and narcissistic man here http://prairiemary.blogspot.ca/2008/01/falling-for-michael-kitchen.html. Apologies if this has already been posted under another thread (it's several years old) but I couldn't find it.

Yes - brilliant review. I had forgotten that one. Going to have a thorough re-read.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby mohairMK » Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:14 am

starlight wrote:
kitchentease wrote:To add to this discussion, there is an interesting analysis of "Falling" as an example of a relationship between a co-dependent woman and narcissistic man here http://prairiemary.blogspot.ca/2008/01/falling-for-michael-kitchen.html.

Yes - brilliant review. I had forgotten that one. Going to have a thorough re-read.

Just had a re-read of PrairieMary's intuitive analysis of Falling myself. She notes what I posted earlier on this thread that Henry, "a rotter who evidently had all his empathy knocked out of him as a child", had obviously been abused (as we see in flashbacks). Although it does not always follow that the abused becomes the abuser, it quite often happens. Perhaps the lack of control he had of his younger life fed his adult need to be controlling, and release his anger as anger had been released on him. Anyone interested in Falling should read this review.
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Re: Falling - Regarding Henry

Postby marigold » Sat May 21, 2016 3:28 am

Not sure if I'm posting this in the right spot but Falling is currently available on Acorn TV as part of the Friday Features. If you haven't seen it and get Acorn, worthwhile, even for MK in this creepy role, swilling vodka and behaving (adorably) badly. About as far from super moral Foyle as it can be.
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