SXSW 2021 Review: The Fallout

Written by Taylor Baker

77/100

Yet another Directorial Debut from SXSW ‘21. The Fallout ranked among the top tier of the festival’s films and Megan Park is perhaps it’s the most exciting new filmmaker to have premiered at the festival. The Fallout follows the story of Vada(Jenna Ortega) and some of her classmates’ lives in the wake of a school shooting as they grapple with its aftermath. 

As the shooting begins Vada is in one of the school bathrooms with Maddie Ziegler’s Mia, the girls ostensibly ran in very separate social circles preceding the shooting. As soon as the shots pop off, they both run instinctively into the same stall and hunker together until the shooting ends and emergency services arrive. This shared experience in a bathroom stall serves as precursor to the girls’ coming relationship and the entrance and swift exit of a third party in it. Though Ziegler has a more restricted role as a supporting character, her work speaks volumes of capability and range. I’d had a feeling before that she might be very special, this has only affirmed that, and should she be given more room to grow or be offered more roles after Spielberg’s West Side Story later this year, I think we’re looking at a long term rangey top tier talent.

Park while broadly conventional does have a panache for understated lens flares, fun camera movement, and clean looking shots. She also serves as solo screenwriter. She’s focused primarily on the personal story and the shared feelings of humanity between the characters here rather than a message. She offloads the burden of a “message” about this charged topic to a side character and gives it some air, but never flounders too long in message over experience. It’s a strong storytelling choice, that excites me about her yarn spinning as she progresses. Her direction and voice are clear. If she continues to rely on sturdy acting from great ensembles and stories about the personal she’ll only continue to grow and improve. I’m excited to watch as she does.

The Fallout Teaser Trailer

The Fallout played at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival.

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