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The Fallout (2021)

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The Fallout is a 2021 American high school drama film written directed by Megan Park in directorial debut. The film stars Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Julie Bowen, John Oritz, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp and Shailene Woodley.

High school student Vada Cavell goes to the restroom in the middle of class after her younger sister Amelia calls her when she has her first period. While in the restroom, a school shooting accurs and Vada hides in a stall with her classmates Mia, a dancer, and Quinton, whose brother is killed in the shooting. In the following weeks after the incident, Vada’s trama causes her to become depressed and isolated from her family. She also isolates herself from her friend Nick, since she cannot relate to the gun control activism he has been coaxed to do. Instead, she becomes closer to Mia and begins to spend lots of time at her house.

Vada’s parents put her in therapy and returns to school, but finds the situation uncomfortable. She cannot bring herself to go to the restroom where she hid, resulting in her peeing on herself when she hears a soda can being crushed. To cope with the stress, she takes ecstasy, resulting in Nick having to help her through the high. She and Nick argue about her weak coping skills, resulting in her venting to Quinton and trying to kiss him. Quinton rejects her, as he is not emotionally ready for a relationship yet. She isolates herself more from her family and friends, including Mia.

Later, Amelia admits to Vada that she assumed Vada was mad at her for the call that has put her in more danger. Vada tells her that is not the case and they make up. Vada recconnects with her parents and Mia, with the two of them agreeing to remain friends. Vada makes progress with her therapy, in coming to terms with what happened, though she admits that she and Nick might not make up. Vada waits for Mia outside of the studio she takes lessons at. She recieves a notification of another school shooting in the country.

The story of a school shooting is both powerful and disturbing and this film does cover that part, but it spends far too much time on Vada withdrawing from others in her life and her depression as well as her relationship with Mia. Not enough of this film is spent on the actual shooting, mostly just the aftermath and the students, school staff and the students’ parents’ reactions. Had the film focused more on the incident and not the feedback of the school community, I would have enjoyed it more. The acting from all the main stars is great. The soundtrack by Finneas O’Connell was also great.

The character of Vada Cavell is a tomboy with no real sense of fashion, dressing like a cross between a female basketball player, a rapper, hippie and Billie Eilish and had very little as far as personality, making her a rather boring protagonist. Mia Reed, the rich girl Vada becomes best friends with, also has very little perosnality and does underage and inappriate things, even with Vada like drink wine, skip school, smoke weed, have sex and listen to unedited music, making her not a likable character much at all either. Vada’s mother Patricia is overprotective of her daughters and her father is more likable as he is more lenient, fun and not afraid to curse (though some may not like that).

Overall, I found this film to be anything but spectacular. It is good and that is all. You’d think for a story about school gun violence, it would’ve been great, but I found myself rather bored for a good portion of this movie. Also the abrupt ending, just made it worse to me. Powerful story, not executed powerfully enough. 18+ 3/5

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