"Admit it, you think we're over," insists Lydia at one stage, giving vocal expression to the gulf that has opened between them with her friend's sexual awakening. The pubescent cusp on which they rest surely plays in to the fainting spells that follow but Morley is generally more concerned with evoking the feeling that surrounds the epidemic than flatly laying out its causes. This is more than complemented by Tracey Thorn's unconventional and entrancing score and the cinematography, lensed with elegant naturalism by Claire Denis' regular DoP Agnes Godard. It perfectly captures the dew-laden greenery of rural England, while lending a sublime air of mysticism to the towering and twisted old oak under which the girls make their invocations. Moments in which supernatural explanations are offered - a lay line runs beneath the grounds of tree and school - raise a titter and there is a rich vein of deadpan humour to be found throughout.
Another scene sees the sceptical headmistress (Monica Dolan) unfussily wakes Lydia from her unconsciousness with a sharp prick from a brooch pin. But droll comedy is far less the point, and neither are metaphysical hypotheses. Far more meaningful and interesting is a nuanced and authentic exploration of social affinity and adolescent female sexuality as attitudes evolved into the 1970s. Equally culpable in Lydia's increasing tumult is a neglectful agoraphobic mother played by Maxine Peake. But ultimately it all comes back to Abbie and the effects of her pioneering encounter with la petite mort. The Falling seeks to conjure the same uncanny quality that compels its characters and makes for an infatuating and illusory experience.
The full Glasgow Film Festival 2015 programme, ticketing details and more can be viewed at glasgowfilm.org.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson