The Last Fall
The Last Fall
By Wilson Morales
It’s always assumed that when an athlete plays a professional sports, that somehow they should be set up for their rest of their life, financially speaking. After all, most of the athletes we hear about are in the spotlight with either TV appearances, riding fancy sport cars, seen in magazines with a gorgeous model. But after reading about the NBA’s latest star player Jeremy Lin and his early days where he was sleeping on couches because he didn’t know how long he would keep his job, you begin to realize that not all players are as wealthy as one may think. In Matthew Cherry’s feature film debut, ‘The Last Fall,’ the film’s tagline is “What happens when a professional football player can no longer play football?”
In a film about perception and reality, and starring Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Michael Moss, Obba Babatundé, Keith David, Harry Lennix, and Darren Henson, ‘The Last Fall’ is an honest, heartfelt and authentic account of a player’s exit from the sporting life and adjusting to the civil one he never knew.
Kyle Bishop (Lance Gross) has never been a superstar on the pro lever. At the age of 25, he’s an ordinary football player who’s been a journeyman for most of his career. Never the best in his position, but certainly not the worst, he’s just one of a dozen of players who struggle to stay in the game and tries “keeping up with Jones’ with a fancy car that he can’t make payments on. When his agent informs him the he’s been cut from his latest team and that his career is done with no teams are interested in him, he decides to head back home to L.A. with the little amount of cash and dignity he has left.
Having been away from home for years has left his relationship with his mother (Vanessa Bell Calloway) and sister (Yaani King) cold and distant. No one seems to care that he’s back, but would rather know when he’s leaving. Without the sport in his life, Kyle has no other skills and is left asking his friend Marcus (Michael Moss) for a job at the local gym.
Surprised to hear that his friend isn’t living the glamorous life even while unemployed, Marcus offers to help Kyle, but even more startled to see him back is his high school ex-girlfriend and single mom Faith Davis (Nicole Beharie). Reluctant to give him the time or day due to an intense breakout, Faith later softens up as Kyle works hard to renew the friendship and hopes for more.
Just when things begin to get comfortable and his adjustment to the real world becomes less stressful, complications ensue that threaten not only the relationships Kyle has mended but his own security in life.
Known for his role on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Lance Gross gives in a commanding performance and physically captures the essence of a player whose spirits are tested when the chips are down. His chemistry with Nicole Beharie, who also gives in a strong performance, looks genuine and emotional.
While the romantic element of the film is worth watching, the focal point is the business of the sports and what happens when players leave the game, willingly or not. For Cherry, a former player himself, his heart and soul is in the script and when you hear Kyle describe how the game is for guys who are not top players on the team, just think of the guys you never see on the field or on court and you get a sense of what he’s talking about. While subplots involving Kyle’s father (Keith David) and another of Faith’s baby daddy seemed unnecessary, Cherry’s carefully kept an eye on the ball (theme), which is Kyle’s life decisions. The Last Fall is filled with a good script, good production values, and fantastic performances.