I’ll Follow You Down is a profoundly affecting film that raises a number of philosophical questions that resonate long after it’s over. In it, Gabriel, a physicist with a wife and a small child, goes missing during a business trip. Years later, his family learns that his disappearance was a profoundly unnatural occurrence, one that they might be able to…correct.
The performances were quite good, particularly Haley Joel Osment as Erol, Gabriel’s son. He does a tremendous job as a conflicted slacker-genius, adding depth to a role that might have come off as hackneyed in a lesser talent’s hands. Gillian Anderson as his mother played a tragic figure: brittle, doomed, and sorrowful. Victor Garber and Susanna Fournier rounded out the cast as grandfather and love interest, respectively. While Rufus Sewell as Gabriel didn’t have a lot of screen time, he was his usual, watchable self, and it’s always refreshing to see him outside of the antagonist role.
The question of fate over free will loomed large over the script: the events of the movie seemed to inexorably push Erol toward fixing his father’s mistake, despite a later decision to move away from it and live the life he has instead of the one he was supposed to have. Fournier as Erol’s girlfriend Grace sets up a terrible dilemma for him, one that can’t help but tear him in two.
Because this is a story about people and family instead of gadgets and science, you won’t find a lot of special effects. The mechanism used to look for Gabriel isn’t as important as the journey itself. It might even qualify as a family movie except for a repeated expletive and a shocking act of violence at the end that has you reeling until the credits roll.
Can one choose work over family, or is the question itself a false choice? Are we living the lives we’re supposed to, or should we fix them if given the chance?
Hard to say. Go see the film and think about it. 4 out of 5 stars.