The Falls (2012) - Plot Summary Poster

(II) (2012)


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  • The Falls is a feature film about two missionaries that fall in love while on their mission. RJ travels to a small town in Oregon with Elder Merrill to serve their mission and teach the words of Joseph Smith. Living together and sharing the challenge of leaving home, the two men help each other discover their strengths. They share a passion for their faith and learn to express their feelings, risking the only community they have for a forbidden intimacy.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • RJ Smith is a young Mormon man who has grown up in a small town in Idaho, with the expectation of doing a 2 year church mission after high school. He is a devoted and faithful church member, as is his entire family. He has excelled in sports, especially wrestling, and has had a girlfriend for 3 years. The church forbids sexual relations outside of marriage, so he and his girlfriend have done nothing beyond a little kissing and touching. One day he accidentally witnesses sexual activity between men at a park, and discovers the true nature of his sexuality. Unfortunately, his church teaches that same sex attraction is a sin, dooming a gay person to outer darkness, and RJ sweeps the incident under the rug.

    RJ soon leaves for his missionary training in Utah. He is a naive and somewhat awkward young man. After completing his training, he is paired with a more experienced missionary companion, Chris Merrill. Chris's father is a church leader, highly placed in the hierarchy. They are assigned near Portland Oregon, and share a small apartment. Chris explains the strict missionary rules and schedule to RJ, but he seems friendly and supportive.

    Together with Chris, RJ embarks on sharing the LDS gospel with anyone who will listen. The encounters are often difficult, and the missionaries struggle to find converts. The church pressures them to provide weekly reports of their activities. They go to busy areas, and attempt to hand out Mormon scriptures. They travel through the city on bicycles, knocking on doors. A great deal of rejection is involved.

    One day, they knock on the door of a Marine veteran with PTSD, Rodney. Rodney enlisted in the service with his brother, and witnessed him being blown apart by a land mine. Although he is not very interested in religion, they convince him to accept a Book of Mormon.

    They are then invited for dinner to the home of a man who is supposedly investigating the church. After eating, they attempt to share the LDS gospel with him, but he ambushes them with his knowledge of controversial church history. He accuses their prophet of being a pedophile. Chris becomes angry, and the pair return home.

    After that incident, Chris loses interest in the mission. He no longer enforces the strict rules, and seems to be going through the motions.

    One evening soon after, while having dinner in a restaurant, RJ expresses concern that Chris is losing his desire to do missionary work. A drunken redneck with a grudge against the church sees their interaction, and accuses them of being homosexuals. Walking home, there is a confrontation, and RJ physically defends himself and his companion. Back at the apartment, the two joke about the incident, while Chris applies ice to RJ's bruised hand.

    That night, RJ looks at his sleeping companion with tenderness and love, but he is bound by his church's negative stance on homosexuality. To do otherwise is to risk losing everything.

    A few days later, the pair are walking home together in a remote area near railroad tracks, and Chris begins to ask RJ searching questions about doubt, confusion and temptation. RJ attempts several times to brush it off, but Chris approaches him for a passionate kiss. The two consummate their relationship in a grove of trees.

    At that point, the companions realize they are in love, and explore each other sexually. They greatly reduce their missionary work, but continue to meet with the Marine veteran, a lonely man who needs emotional support. Rodney introduces them to marijuana, and inspires them with his story of taking a 3 month road trip with his brother before his death.

    Before long, their missionary zone leader notices their lack of commitment and he becomes suspicious. Eventually he walks into their unlocked apartment, discovering them in bed together.

    RJ is quickly sent home in disgrace, a missionary who did not finish his mission. He faces his father, his former girlfriend, and church leaders, all of whom are angry with him for being gay. While he is not quite ready to give up the church, he is brave and defiant about his sexuality. He meets with the church leader, and tells him he is not sorry about what happened. He is determined to live honestly.

    Due to the influence of his father, Chris is able to finish his mission, and remains in contact with RJ by the US mail.

    As the film ends, a hopeful RJ is planning a 3 month road trip with Chris throughout the West.

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