He Died With a Felafel in His Hand (2001)

At a party I told my boyfriend that “I am going to make a movie about emerging adulthood.”

“That sounds cool.” He said. “What’s it gonna be about?”

“What do you mean? It’s going to be about this.” I said staring at the increasingly chaotic mosh pit of 20-somethings mere inches away from me. “Emerging adulthood!” I exclaimed, barely dodging a blow to the head from a crowd surfer.

“Yeah I know, ’emerging adulthood,’ but what story are you telling? What’s the point?”

… And I couldn’t really come up with anything. The idea seemed solid in my head… Just Emerging Adulthood: The delay of growing up, or becoming an ADULT adult, to go through the discovery of your true most truest self and pursue as many hedonistic interests as you can before you can’t.

Anyway at the party, after about 5 minutes of observing adulthood not so much emerging as receding, my boyfriend leans over to me and says: “Here’s what you should do: Watch a lot of ‘coming of age’-type movies. That should help you.”

Of course. Coming of age. The “emerging adulthood” story has been done. Over and over and over. There is even one movie that pretty much tells exactly the story I could conceptualize but not articulate at the party.

I’m not saying He Died With a Felafel In His Hand is exactly the movie about emerging adulthood I would have made, but it’s pretty damn close. Also, dying with a falafel in my hand is not that far out of the realm of possibility for me because falafels are my favorite food.

He Died With a Felafel In His Hand is an interesting and witty “coming of age” Australian indie comedy. The characters could be straight out of Trainspotting, except replace the drug use with a mean nicotine habit and actually keep the drug use.

From the press release for the movie:

He Died With a Felafel in His Hand is based on the book of the same title by John Birmingham. The book details the life of Danny and his different flatmates and living situations.

If you’re looking for the real emerging adulthood experience, this film from Director Richard Lowenstein has everything: Overdoses, philosophical conversations while under the influence, struggling actors/artists, confused sexuality, karaoke, smoking, alcohol, fighting roommates, cops, Penthouse Magazine, pagan rituals, pop culture references, frog golf, terrible business ideas, debt, suicide attempts and dishes set on fire. There’s also tons of intrigue, tight close-up shots, insecurity and tears.

Danny (portrayed by Noah Taylor) is the prototypical lost and confused 20-something male. I see so many similarities between him and people I know (not me though; not at all).

Here are some things about Danny:

  • He repeatedly plays the same song on his guitar (California Dreaming), but he sings a different, truer-to-the-song’s-lyrics, slower version
  • He is an unpublished Writer for a living
  • Hung up on his ex-wife
  • Excessively smokes cigarettes
  • Owes a lot of money
  • Paints his gray hairs with a black marker
  • He is deeply aware of his own sense of melodrama, he lacks faith in himself but expects faith in others, projects his insecurities into everybody, rejects happiness as being shallow and superficial, embraces post-modernism to avoid having an original thought, criticizes himself to be above all criticism, hates what he desires, desires what he hates, and always has to kill what he loves most

I really liked the character of Anya. She is a trés philosophical, vegetarian, chaos freak (“like a control freak but for chaos”). She quotes Star Trek and she matches Danny in excessive cigarette consumption. She might be a witch.

All of the characters were well thought out and are interesting/amusing to watch. Felafel covers the entire gamut of types of 20-somethings (and the things they do) quite nicely.

He Died With a Felafel in His Hand is also beautifully shot and the vignettes are thoughtfully done. The outrageous and caricature-like characters come off surprisingly relatable and real.

The film also wears its influences on its sleeves. I love when artists directly reference and shout out those that inspire them. Best way to discover new stuff, that is.

I never answered the question my boyfriend asked me at the party, about what the point is. With He Died With a Felafel In His Hand in mind, I’d have to say that what is the point is the point.


2 thoughts on “He Died With a Felafel in His Hand (2001)

  1. Hi! I just found your blog through this post (I saw He Died today and it’s kind of haunting me now), and I just wanted to let you know that I have been captivated by the rest of your posts. I am in awe. Personal writing and essays about films are two of my favourite things, and your writing is just delightful.

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