Review: An Intimate Portrait of an Affair – How He Fell in Love

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Amy Hargreaves and Matt McGorry star in How He Fell in Love.

Amy Hargreaves and Matt McGorry star in How He Fell in Love.

Infidelity is such a great subject for films because it allows for intrigue, conflict and sex. It’s an inherently compelling subject that often serves as the basis for the type of thrillers that likely paid for several of Michael Douglas’ vacation homes throughout the ’90s. How He Fell in Love depicts the affair between a married woman and a younger man, but uses the affair as the basis for an intimate character study instead of a trashy potboiler that ends in carnage. The only real violence here is of the emotional variety.

How He Fell in Love stars Matt McGorry (“Orange is the New Black,” “How to Get Away With Murder”) as Travis, a young man who, upon the gradual petering out of his current relationship, meets Ellen, a married woman in her 40s played by Amy Hargreaves, perhaps best known for playing Claire Danes’ character’s sister on “Homeland.” The two begin a sexual relationship that she attempts to conceal while he tries to figure out what he wants from life.

The film is an incredibly intimate one, not only because of its subject matter but because it is rather sparse. McGorry and Hargreaves dominate the film, and only Ellen’s husband (Mark Blum) and Travis’ ex-girlfriend (Britne Oldford) have more than a few lines of dialogue. It is almost reflective of how people see a new relationship: There is only room for the couple, and no one else really exists.

The film makes a fascinating choice as it continues. Although seen first through the eyes of Travis, gradually it shifts its focus over to Ellen and her predicament. This is the correct choice, since her character is naturally a richer subject than a wide-eyed 20-something. Hargreaves is quite good in the role, effectively portraying a woman during an early midlife crisis who over-corrects from one extreme to another, not knowing that neither is a particularly good choice. McGorry is also fine, although Travis follows squarely in line with his prison guard on the Netflix streaming series.

How He Fell in Love breaks no ground, and even its psychological insights are rarely that novel, but despite feeling somewhat slight, writer/director Marc Meyers handles the material with grace. This may not be a film that will cause audiences to fall in love, but they might like it well enough just the same.

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How He Fell In Love

Monument Releasing
Now in select theaters

3 Stars

Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).

Jeremy Ross is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering entertainment.
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