Sometimes it can be extremely difficult not to feel completely overwhelmed by life, to not retreat into a depressive cocoon of anxiety and despair as time itself seems to rush at a hundred miles per hour all around you, leaving you floundering in its wake. It is when these moments of pure despair come upon us that we all desperately search, unconsciously or overtly, for that one small spark to hold onto. That one, sometimes even insignificant, thing that can make life worth living.
Cooper: “Yeah me too.”
Fallen Stars is a brilliantly crafted drama focusing on the exploration of these very sentiments as we witness the unexpected journey of two lost individuals who are attempting to figure out the broken pieces of their lives and find some sense and meaning. We are treated to some really incredible performances by Michelle Ang (Tai San) as the socially awkward Daisy, a young yet brilliant writer who does not know how to relate to others; and in Ryan O’Nan as Cooper, who on the surface appears as a confident and happy bartender, but inside, he is deeply lost and desperately alone.
It really needs to be said here that the entire casting and performances within Fallen Stars is top notch. The regular faces at Cooper’s bar in the forms of Ron (Leslie David Baker) and owner Joyce (Elizabeth Sung) bring some quick-fire moments of comedy to lighten the ongoing drama and tension unfolding between our main characters. It is delivered in both sharp and subtle forms, these interjections expertly balancing out the bleak and depressive nature of the narrative and our character’s lives.
Written and directed by Brian Jett, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t feel some sort of attachment or connection to either Cooper or Daisy. Their blend of social awkwardness, uncertain direction in life, and the small ways in which they cope, are sentiments that we can all feel at times in our own lives. At its core, it is a film about depression, and as Cooper’s life seems to fall apart, it was difficult not to feel the emotional pull as I’ve experienced this so many times myself.
In an almost strange duality, Cooper and Daisy seem to trade states, as Cooper finally explodes at the dead-end job that he is confined in, and yet, we uncover the hidden depths to Daisy and hints as to why she currently resists any and all connections.
I can’t stress enough at just how well written Fallen Stars is.
Working in harmony with the excellent writing is some beautiful cinematography. You can clearly see the time and effort that was placed into attaining certain shots, including the mesmerizing timelapse features that are scattered throughout the film. This is only heightened by a mellow yet sublime soundtrack, the eerie cords and synthetic sounds carrying you through the journey.
Fallen Stars could all so easily have descended into the usual tropes of ‘boy meets girl’ in order to ultimately lift the depression and narrative, and I can only smile in triumph at the simple honesty of the film and that it did not finish on such a note. The strained friendship between Cooper and Daisy as they try to find some hold on life, and the complete desperation that Cooper feels at almost losing that one special thing that he has, is so touching that it almost brings tears.