Monday, July 14, 2008

Movie Review - The Fall

When I heard that Tarsem Singh, the director of The Cell, had done another movie entitled The Fall, I checked out the trailer. I was overwhelmed with how lovely it seemed, and finally got around to seeing it last night. It went well beyond any expectation I had for it.

The plot is simple, and the delivery both unique and fascinating. It is set in Los Angeles in 1915. A Hollywood stuntman, Roy, is hurt when trying to pull off a stunt. A quirky and curious little girl, Alexandria, has broken her arm while working in the orange orchards. She wanders around the hospital, searching for ways to alleviate boredom, and discovers Roy. In exchange for doing him favors – mostly stealing medicine – Roy tells her a magnificent story. Shown from the point of view of imagination, the story itself is intertwined with the lives of both characters.

First, let me say this: Lee Pace, the atheist brother of Jaye in the short-lived Wonderfalls, is stupendous in his role as Roy Walker. Roy suffers from more than physical injuries: his heart has been broken, and the pain he feels is so evident – and so accessible – throughout the entire film. His obvious inexperience with children is adorable in some scenes, terrifying in others. He underestimates the effect he has had on little Alexandria, and this oversight nearly causes the child her life. The final scenes with the two characters had me beside myself – their love for each other had me in tears. As for Catinca Untaru as Alexandria…what a fascinating child! It’s so hard to believe that someone so young could be so incredibly expressive and so fully capture the essence of confusion required of Alexandria, whose English is, as Roy says more than once, “gibberish.” The two performances were remarkable.

Second, and I expected no less: the scenery was breathtaking. The entire movie, which spanned 18 different countries (WHOA!), was so utterly gorgeous that I found myself repeatedly in awe. Two scenes in particular stand out in my mind: the scene with one of the secondary characters, known only as “the Mystic,” in which he is tattooed while his brothers sing – I don’t want to spoil the scene too much by giving it away – and Darwin realizes what is happening and forces out a gasp of surprise, barely shoving out the words, “they’re giving us directions!” The other scene is the wedding – I can’t even put it into words. Nothing like the conventional wedding one might imagine, the lack of noise found here is overwhelming. Again, I couldn’t help but cry through almost the entire scene, it was so fantastically beautiful.

This is how movies should be made. It was the kind of movie that simultaneously lifted my spirits because it reminded me of the beauty so inherent in the world, and yet broke my heart, for fear that I’ll never make anything this lovely in my lifetime. I enthusiastically recommend this movie to everyone.

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