Joyce. A young Dutch woman, in her early twenties. Long straight long hair, an open and happy face. Yet behind that vivid, intelligent gaze hides a world of uncertainty and discomfort. Joyce has epilepsy. For those who are familiar with the term but are not sure what it means: someone with epilepsy repeatedly suffers from seizures, which are caused by a kind of short circuit in the brain. During such an attack, a person has no control over his or her body. When and how often these attacks occur; there is no control on that either. There is no cure yet.
Filmmaker Jef Monté decided to make a documentary about Joyce when he met her in the clinic where he himself is being treated for epilepsy. Jef first had to deal with the ‘epileptic disease’ at the age of 29, Joyce was already diagnosed at the age of twelve. With ‘Falling’, Monté wants to provide insight into the impact epilepsy has on the life of a patient.
Joyce is a great protagonist: she is never pathetic, but speaks soberly and with humor about her condition. In fact, she tends to downplay her illness. That makes the comment that during her last attacks her jaw dislocated, she bruised her ribs, and pinched a spine, all the harder.
For Joyce it is difficult, if not impossible, to live a life like her peers do. Living on your own, completing an education, driving a car… these are things Joyce can only dream of. And of course she dreams. From a handsome man, with whom she can live in Canada and have children. From a job in childcare or as an interior designer. But her illness puts an end to those plans. Still, she remains positive, stressing that her condition has brought her good things too.
‘Falling’ combines the intimate conversations with Joyce and her parents, images of the examinations in the clinic, and poignant scenes in which Joyce is attacked, with more abstract fragments of waving dune grass and the sound of what could be a scratching pencil (probably the sound from the device that records brain activity). With these images Monté tries to portray what goes on in the head of an epilepsy patient. The knowledge that he is an expert by experience gives ‘Falling’ an extra meaning. Beautiful, well-balanced documentary, which hopefully increases the understanding of this life-determining condition.