The Fallout

The Fallout has been on HBO Max for a month or so and I have been meaning to watch it during that time, but I just never got around to it. As I started trying to catch up with some of the new streaming films, I found The Fallout still on the list and so I decided to watch it this morning.

I did not expect it to be as powerful as it was.

Vada (Jenna Ortega) was a high school girl who found herself hiding in the girls bathroom with another classmate, Mia (Maddie Ziegler) as their school was under attack by an active shooter. Those few moments of terror and uncertainty in the restroom truly re-contextualized these two girls’ lives.

After surviving the day, Vada began to make choices that she would not have made before.

This movie is not about the school shooting that happened. It is a study on the survivors of the shooting and the pain of guilt and fear that comes with the situation. It takes time to look at, not only, how it affects the kids who were there, including one of Vada’s closest friends Nick (Will Ropp) who becomes the activist, and Quinton (Niles Fitch), whose brother is killed in the shooting, but also those people who are adjacent to Vada, such as her mother (Julie Bowen), her father (John Ortiz) and her little sister (Lumi Pollack).

The world has become too accepting of this traumatic event the more it happens, and this movie showed how different each person could react to the violence.

Jenna Ortega absolutely fills the screen. She is a star in the making and she does stellar work portraying the conflicted and frightened young girl. She conveys how the wound is very much open and still causing her problems with a massive final scene. Ortega is so realistic with this character that you cannot take your eyes off of her.

First time director Megan Park also penned this screenplay and does an amazing job of showing how such a horrible event can taint a person’s life moving forward and how much of a difficult task it may be to put it behind you. Despite the glowering tone, the film does have moments of hope sprinkled in with the sadness. The scene with Vada and her father is beautiful and life-affirming.

The Fallout is a powerful film that could be a difficult watch for many. It is vital that we understand the fallout of the situation that has sadly become oh so normal in our lives.

3.8 stars

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