If like me you couldn’t get Beautiful Boy tickets, as much as I desperately wanted them, TIFF has still got you covered in terms of unflinching depictions of drug addiction with Icelandic director Baldvin Z’s Let Me Fall.

When we first meet 15-year-olds Magnea (Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir) and Stella (Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir), Magnea is an excellent student but falling under the dangerous influence of the rebellious and slightly bossy Stella. Skipping school and taking drugs seems fun at first but, by the time they’re 17, it is clear both are way over their heads. Years later, Stella (now played by Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir) is finally in a 12-step program and has been sober for years while Magnea (Kristín þóra Haraldsdóttir) seems to have been left behind and is constantly seeking her next fix.

As we jump from past to present and back again, Z’s non-linear structure makes for a harrowing and heartbreaking experience. There will be times where we really are tempted to believe that young Magnea is about to turn her life around, even though we know how much further she will end up sinking. It is profoundly sad in a way that few films about addictions ever are.

Maybe Let Me Fall works because it treats its characters with empathy without ever holding back how frustrating people with addictions can be. Maybe it’s because it’s about dysfunctional friendships as much as it is about drugs. I do know that I would be shocked if Beautiful Boy ends up being even half as moving as this was.

Friday, September 7, 9:30 PM, Jackman Hall
Sunday, September 16, 12:15 PM, Scotiabank

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