Movie review: The Fall by Tarsem Singh

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Release date: 2006
 Roy Walker the stuntman – Lee Pace
Alexandria – Cantinca Untaru
Nurse Evelyn – Justine Waddell
Sinclair / Governor Odious -Daniel Caltagirone  

1915, the dawn of Hollywood. Roy, a movie stuntman, was gravely injured by an on-set mishap involving a horsebacked train-trestle tumble. Now he languishes in an LA hospital. He’s become paraplegic, his beloved has broken his heart so he is deeply depressed and wants to commit a suicide. In order to get hold of a lethal dose of morphine he unspools tall tales to a five-year-old orphan girl called Alexandria from another ward. These two share with us the images they conjure up in their minds’ eye – huge vistas, storybook heroism and colours so vivid they seem unreal. But of course every tale must reach its conclusion. Will it be Roy’s untimely death? Will  Alexandria manage to save him from his demons, pulling him out of his slump ?

What I liked:
This movie is like candy to the eyes. Profiting from jaw-dropping Indian locations, the film dazzles like few others. Small wonder – it was shot in over 20 countries and its commitment to the wonders of the real world is refreshing.It can be actually called a ‘two films in one’ combo as the narration is divided into several threads. It is also very original, featuring animated sequences, waterborne pachyderms (but hey, the elephants really can swim!), and a drolly humorous imagining of a monkey-conversant Charles Darwin who is wearing a coat (?) worth an exotic parrot. And a bowler hat (see the pic on the left).
Crammed with vivid images of deserts, palaces, magical reefs,  historical figures (also Alexander the Great drops by) and famous landmarks (blink and you’ll miss the Blue City in Rajastan or the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal or the Statue of Liberty or the pyramids or the Great Wall), it comes down to earth long enough to establish a connection between two unlikely pals: a little unaffected but spunky girl and a young, disillusioned man, suffering from classic depression.
The power of imagination is the greatest asset of this movie. The year is 1915, but with Roy sharing stories as seductively as Scheherezade, the pair can be anywhere/anytime: jumping into the ring with Roman gladiators, matching wits with an ancient conqueror, battling the evil Governor Odious or transforming themselves into the Black Bandit and his tiny daughter in matching outfits of black and gold.Their story seems to include tall tales of Zorro, Ali Baba and Pecos Bill rolled into one. It was a fun ride – I appreciated evrey minute of it! 
What I didn’t like:
Once you’ve been dazzled, that’s it. The pacing dragged after a while and the clichéd tussle between childhood innocence and adult disillusionment can only go one way. The story did lack some depths, being a bit too thin for adults and a bit too dark for kids.While every frame looked drop-dead gorgeous, Tarsem struggled to string them together in a logic way. The feature which disturbed me the most was the fact that there was no overriding tone to this film, which jumped from slapstick comedy to travelogue documentary to wrenching drama. It seems there was no real sense of suspense in the plot and the ending hardly provided any lasting conclusion because we weren’t shown whether Alexandria’s version of events was true or false.
Final verdict:
A treat in a static kind of way – visually superb but with a shallow story at its core. Still one of the most original movies I’ve seen this year.You might want to see it for no other reason than because it exists.

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4 Responses to Movie review: The Fall by Tarsem Singh

  1. Hmmm, it sounds like a great idea. I might check it out; I have a high-ish tolerance for experimental film.

  2. I love weird and good.

  3. I strongly recommend this movie to you, Tasha.

  4. rameau says:

    I love this film. I know it's superficial and predictable but still, it gets to me every single time. Part of it is because everything else seems to be a remake or a revival of some sort rather than original and new. I'm glad you watched it.

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