Jun 2008 06

Director Tarsem creates a beautiful piece of visual art that is slightly marred by a shaky story that is a bit all over the place, even if the story defining the story is supposed make things erratic, it still doesn’t quite work all the way (I promise that sentence will make sense by the end of the review).
Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) is an imaginative and curious little girl who has unfortunately broken her arm and is forced to stay in hospital until fully recovered. Roy (Lee Pace) is a movie stunt man who has broken his back, due to a broken heart, trying to impress the one he loves with a ridiculous horse riding stunt that ended with a dead horse; and the panic and mayhem of the misfired stunt is captured breathtakingly during the opening credits. These two form an unlikely connection when Alexandria wanders into Roy‘s ward of the hospital and the two begin to discuss Alexandria‘s name and eventually into a story Roy begins melding from aspects of Alexandria‘s life and his own struggles at the point and time.
The adventure Roy weaves is fun and the story follows an interesting path, as well as being filled with a number of interesting and imaginative characters. This is a tale of “bandits” seeking revenge on the evil Governor Odious led by the Masked Bandit he is followed by, the Indian a grieving husband, Luigi an explosive mastermind, Charles Darwin, and Otta Benga a former slave. The fivesome band together with the assistance of the Mystic and we watch Roy‘s story unfold in Alexandria‘s imagination.
For the most part this works, but there are a number of times were things seem to just be happening to happen and can appear very disjointed, but that is just the nature of the story so I don’t know how I ultimately feel about that. The real story is just as interesting, if not more so, than the fantasy portion of the proceedings, as Alexandria discovers herself while Roy comes to grips with internal demons.
The look of this film is just extraordinary, and the locales that Tarsem has found is just eye popping. I can’t imagine if this was full backed by a studio what he would have created, but the film still looks remarkable with each shot in the fantasy world just being beautiful. The humor in the film is kind of an odd duck out though for Tarsem. There are moments that he nods at humor, but don’t feel like it should, and I found myself not sure if I was supposed to be laughing or not, and a couple of awkward jokes that are directed at Alexandria through the camera don’t really quite work. The film blends in and out of reality, with dialogue whispering in and out of cuts and realms, and it gets a bit hard to totally grasp what is going on all the time.
The acting in the film is pretty much left to just Pace and Untaru and they do a fine job together. The actors portraying the other bandits do admirable jobs, but they don’t really have all that much to work with. Untaru is cute as a button and the banter between her and Pace seem genuine most of the time with many cute and confused exchanges. Justine Waddell adds little in her role, but her character gets lost in and out of the story and we never really get a real feel for her and what she really deserves or wants.
In the end, The Fall is an intriguing and interesting fantasy film that is full of imagination. Tarsem does a fantastic job at painting a beautiful portrait for us to watch and come play in, one just is left wishing the adventure would have been a bit more fluid. If the plot would have been a bit more steady and coherent, the could have been a classic fantasy film, as it stands, it is an interesting and entertaining piece of cinema that is worth checking out, but I think sadly fell short of what it could have been.


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