Off the Radar: ‘The Fallout’

An unlikely couple after traumatic school shootings in HBO’s new original film “The Fallout”. Water (Jenna Ortega), a cold and uncompromising toad, would usually make fun of the perfect influential person Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler). That is, until the two end up in the bathroom at the same time that their classmate opens fire in the hallway outside.

Megan Park’s directorial and screenwriting debut, “The Fallout,” reflects the trauma after the school shooting so that Generation Z can find good. Although Pak herself is 35, her screenplays and direction realistically portray how normal teenagers behave. She captures familiar moments of teens such as Sister Water’s dancing in TikTok, drunkenness and awkward relationships with parents without overplaying those moments too much.

The park also touches on issues, including sexuality and soft drug abuse, in a realistic manner that neither glorifies nor belittles them. Her debut film conveys the voice of Generation Z. More importantly, she is able to accurately capture the perspective of someone who has experienced intense trauma.

At the age of 18, I believe that many films inaccurately reflect the traumas of teenagers. It seems that most of them revolve around the incident itself, not after its aftermath, and the aftermath is always reflected as a linear healing process.

“The Fallout” claims that healing for everyone looks different. The Water character shows a slow recovery process in which she hides from her injury rather than facing it. Her best friend Nick (Will Rop) immediately starts acting after the shooting: he calls for reforms, organizes protests and demands change. This film has well portrayed the different ways that people choose to treat injuries, as Park can catch how these differences have caused a rift in their membership.

Another highlight of Pak’s writing is the way she shows Water’s awkward but close relationship with her therapist Anna (Shailene Woodley). After traumatic events, many people are unsure whether they should even get help, and this is understandable – exposing your life to a complete stranger can be uncomfortable and scary. Had Water’s mother (Julie Bowen) not encouraged her to see a therapist, she would never have sought help, but ultimately therapy plays an important role in her treatment path. Hopefully, those who watch the Park movie will find it easier to seek help after watching this movie.

“The Fallout” also accurately reflects the awkwardness of first love and the study of one’s sexuality. As if Water’s friendship with Mia wasn’t awkward enough since they were polar opposites, Water realizes she has feelings for Mia, and twists even more. Finding out who you are is hard enough – an unresolved injury only makes it more overwhelming. This becomes apparent through water bursts. Indeed, Ortega’s performance plays a big part in Megan Park’s success story. She knows how to make her character friendly without overdoing it. Many times during the film I thought we were the same person.

Park does a great job exploring Water’s relationship with her family throughout the film. She very realistically shows the shift between the family dynamics of Water, and her relationship with Sister Amelia reminded me of my relationship with my sister. I hope that this film will help viewers navigate the process of communicating with their families when they face difficult situations.

Contact Shrew Wankhade at arts@nyunews.com.

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