September 11 of 2001 is one of those dates the world will never forget. Sadly, we remember the infamous 9/11 for all the wrong reasons. Maybe the only good thing that came out of the tragic events that unfolded that day is the resilience of the people affected directly and indirectly by the terrorist attacks that targeted various US landmarks. After all the dust was settled the movie industry was ready to look and depict this event on the big screen. With the live-action short film Free Fall (2021) the French director Emmanuel Tenenbaum focus on this subject from a different perspective.
The 9/11 consequences will last forever, and the film industry has explored every possible angle. From the distressing moments lived by the passengers of the United 93 flight brilliantly reproduced in the fiction film directed by Paul Greengrass United 93 (2006). To the shattered life of one man that lost everything on that day in the powerful drama Reign Over Me (2007) from Mike Binder. Or we can go to the operation that brought down the leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden in the thriller Zero Dark Thirty (2012) directed by Kathryn Bigelow. But also, we have all the documentaries over the subject including Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004).
What makes Tenenbaum’s Free Fall so relevant is not that it goes over this subject one more time but the way it plunges into it. First the setting is thousands of miles apart from the epicenter and second the point of view of the narrative is from a character that is trying to make a profit during the chaos that is unraveling. Tom (Abraham Lewis) is a young trader in a London based financial firm, he is going through a rough time because of his low performance and is on the brink of loosing his job. Tom’s luck is about to change when he realizes that what is happening in the United States is a terrorist attack and he decides to bet against the market to win big when the expected collapse happens.
The spectacular camera work from Antoine Roch (Love Me If You Dare, Viva Riva!) drags us to the disarray of the moment. Tom’s world is crumbling but soon enough everyone’s world will be crumbling too. Roch cinematography feeds on the close-ups and tight camera angles to recreate the uneasiness and the tension on the hours following the attacks. The biggest paradox that we must face is to look at both sides of the coin during a tragedy. On one side is deep in despair while the other is full of joy this is the best part of the director’s speech. Here is where the film is at is best and the backdrop of the events grows bigger, we never leave that office where Tom is trying to turn the situation in his own favor, but we can feel the stress of the juncture.
Free Fall is gripping and intense it will grab you from the minute one until its devastating final sequence.