He Died with a Falafel in His Hand (2001)

falafel

Directed by: Richard Lowenstein

What a cool fucking soundtrack this film has, opening with the timeless ‘Golden Brown’ by The Stranglers, peppered with a regular scattering of Nick Cave. It’s almost too cool for its own good. Judging by the soundtrack alone ‘He Died with a Felafel in His Hand’ feels like it might’ve been a cult film for a certain age group of Australians in the early noughties, just how ‘Human Traffic’ became such a significant film for me and my friends. Nowadays people know Danny Dyer as the landlord of the Queen Vic, I still remember him fondly as Moff.

Noah Taylor (a recognizable character actor you see in many quirky films) plays Danny, a struggling writer who lives in a ramshackle shared house with a group of oddballs and weirdos.  Adapted from the book ‘He Died with a Felafel in His Hand’ the film  version resonates with anyone who has had the misfortune to live in a shared house with a group of people that they have nothing in common with.

Falafel is split into three acts, or shall we say three houses. Act one begins, as all the acts do, with Danny strumming ‘California Dreamin’’ on his guitar. We see his fellow housemates having a discussion about the homoerotic undertones of ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Danny lives with Flip, the pale junkie, who moonbathes (tries to catch the rays of the full moon at night), Taylor, a military fixated tough guy, and Milo and Otis, two lads. The testosterone fuelled atmosphere is broken by an English lass named Sam, the lone voice of common sense. There are also other folk who dwell in the property.

Danny has a serious case of writers block, and sits empty minded in front of his typewriter, dreaming of writing something publishable. As a writer he seems oblivious to the rich material that keeps him up at night.

Act one changes pace when an enigmatic existential Frenchwoman named Anya arrives. We then meet the other people in the house. A fat man seemingly growing into his sofa chair named Jabba and a bank clerk who lives in a tent, alongside another late arrival, a lost looking Japanese backpacker. Anya revels in the power of seduction, and all the blokes try and get her into bed. After Anya moves into a house which is literally falling apart, athe film goes into ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ territory as events get more and more surreal with Pagan rituals and Nazi skinhead invaders.

The second act sags majorly, Danny moves in with a socialist; Taylor and Flip turn up, then Sam. It features an out of the blue suicide attempt which mirrors a similar scene from another 2001 film, Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’; and a point blank murder involving a dodgy cop. The dramatically shocking moments seem a bit shoehorned in and after taking the time to introduce us to an interesting bunch of folk we end up in bizarre melodrama.

Act three is especially manic and more akin to act one. Danny moves in with a narcissistic struggling actor, a repressed homosexual fella and another chap who appears to be vaguely Scandinavian. Oh, and Taylor’s there as well. Then a few more of his former housemates drop by, like Sam and Anya, who at this point in the movie have a thing going on. Flip turns up, and goes out for a Falafel; I don’t need to tell you what happens after that.

Certainly ‘He Died with a Falafel in His Hand’ is a film of its time, it hasn’t aged all that well. Noah Taylor is pretty ok in the leading role, but you can see why he hasn’t gone on to star in many films because he just kinda flits around, raising his eyebrows, looking generally bemused about the world.

– RJW

6/10

He Died with a Falafel in his Hand on IMDB

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