After Fall, Winter
Once nominated for Gawker's "Douche of the Decade," filmmaker-actor Eric Schaeffer (If Lucy Fell) casts himself yet again as an ideal—a fragile romantic who fucks a model-thin beauty while musing on sexual kink, suicide, and relationships—in another sanctimonious dose of talk-therapy cinema. It's not necessary to see 1997's Fall to follow this sequel, in which Schaeffer's now middle-age Manhattan novelist Michael scurries off to Paris to escape his loneliness, faded career, and six-figure debt. More than a week of screen time and a punishing 130-minute run time, his uncouth American bluntness repels before inexplicably charming half-his-age Sophie (Lizzie Brocheré), a caretaker of terminally ill patients who moonlights as a dominatrix—a fetish she keeps from Michael, just as he hides his preference for strap-on humiliations. Like talking to a mirror, the two act as Schaeffer's neurotic halves: She identifies as more masculine in her fear of intimacy; he cries before yoga class when faced with some harsh reality. A feebly earnest subplot involving a 13-year-old girl dying of leukemia and a gypsy street scammer don't distract from what frustrates even more than the risible ending of Shakespearean martyrdom: Schaeffer can't be trusted or believed as a broken man—he's got no humility.
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