It can be argued that life is nothing more than a series of choices. Daily decisions that impact, in some fashion or another, the paths our journeys head down. While life is continually moving forward, there are times when past choices create roadblocks that we are unsure how to navigate around. Such is the situation that Travis (Matt McGorry, Orange is the New Black and How to Get Away with Murder) finds himself in. Although he once had a promising music career, Travis seems to be drifting through life with no real sense of direction.
This rut that he finds himself in is especially evident when it comes to his love life. While he exudes a confidence that suggest he has no problems attracting the opposite sex, it is clear, if judging by is on-again, off-again relationship with Monica (Britne Oldford), commitment does not appear to be one of his strong suits. Of course this might all change after he meets Ellen (Amy Hargreaves) while attending his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. A yoga instructor married to the much older Henry (Mark Blum), Ellen is in the process of adopting a child, a fact which she purposely keeps from Travis.
As Travis and Ellen’s relationship moves from causal flirtation to an intimate affair, they both must confront their feelings for each other and the repercussions of their actions.
How He Fell in Love presents an intimate look at individuals unable to let go of past decisions who, as a result, find themselves making further missteps. Travis spends much of his free time lamenting the passing of an era that he can never get back, at least not the way he remembers it. He throws the blame for the demise of his career at various parties, but fails to see that only he holds the key to his fate. Similarly, Ellen is at a stage where she is questioning whether she made the right decision getting married. She remarks that her older husband “saved her” from a dark time her life, but it is clear that moving away from a problem is not the same as resolving it.
While the film runs a little longer than it really should, the scenes focusing solely on Henry feel out of place, Meyers script does a nice job of making the audience care about Travis and Ellen’s blossoming romance. The performances also play a big role in this as well. McGorry manages to keep Travis engaging, delicately balancing the cockiness and genuine emotion within the character. In another actor’s hands, Travis would have come off too arrogant or simply annoying. McGorry shows great chemistry with Hargreaves, who is the true revelation of the film. Bringing both emotional vulnerability and a playfulness, Hargreaves is a treat to watch. She turns a mundane scene between Travis and Ellen into something intriguing.
At times, despite its best efforts to stay within a morally complex sphere, How He Fell in Love does hit on a few too many conventional tropes. Audiences will see the outcome coming long before the film is ready to reach its conclusion. However, thanks in part to the care Meyers takes in building Travis and Ellen’s relationship, this does not diminish what is an otherwise stirring drama. The film eloquently reminds us that the decisions of the past can only take hold of us as long as we allow it to.