25 February 2012

Movies: The Fall

The Fall (2006) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460791/

Drama Fantasy Adventure

Set in a 1920s Los Angeles hospital. Roy is a stuntman who suffered an injury on the job that left him paralyzed. Also in the hospital is Alexandria, a 5 year old Romanian immigrant, recovering from a fall from an orange tree. Bored as any child would be in a half-body immobilization cast she makes her way all over the hospital during the day. The nurses have been teaching her to speak and write English. She writes a note to her favorite nurse and throws it out the window, but the wind carries the note through an open window on the ground floor. Alexandria finds the note with Roy, it had landed on his lap. They get to talking and Roy begins telling her a story about 5 bandits on a quest.  However we soon find out that Roy's storytelling is a means of manipulating the child into stealing morphine for him.

Most of the cast I've never heard of, however it starred Lee Pace as Roy. I recognized his name from the short-lived quirky series "Pushing Daisies", a show I enjoyed immensely and mourned when cancelled. Known actors or not, casting did an amazing job.

I had never heard anything about this film before coming across it accidentally while surfing through channels. Once I saw the description I thought I'd record the next showing and watch it. However the whim that spurred me to record the film faded almost just as quickly and it sat on my DVR for about two months before I got around to watching it.
I am glad I finally did watch it, though, because it really would have been a shame to miss it.

In some ways this film reminded me of "The Princess Bride". Normally any comparison of a film to "The Princess Bride" sets a bar very hard to meet and spells death.  What I mean is the similarity lies mostly in 'an adult telling a story to a child' category of film, with the child's imagination showing us the tale on screen. This film does the same, but what was a neat addition to that type of film was as the child's imagination falls short or changes what we see reflects those changes.
Just don't expect it to be the same sort of film as "Princess Bride", or to even like it in the same way, for that's where the similarity ends. The film also reminded me a little of  "Labyrinth" and "MirrorMask", both Henson productions films, because they and "The Princess Bride" are all of similar fantasy adventure story stock.  This film also has a dark side, sometimes a crushing dark side, along the lines of "Pan's Labyrinth" dark. Probably too dark for younger children, hence the "R" rating. Mature teens shouldn't have much of a problem. The story goes where it needs to go.

Chances are most readers have seen "The Princess Bride" and possibly "Labyrinth", so trying to conjure up a mix with the other films I mentioned is probably tough.  Regardless, I would recommend seeing those other films if you haven't yet seen them.

Directed by Indian director Tarsem Singh, who also directed "The Cell" back in 2000. His cultural influences bring sequences to the film that aren't often seen from most western film directors. Overall an outstanding production. The fantasy settings are stunning. Apparently all were shot in real places at 26 locations in 18 different countries. I can't emphasize enough how incredible some of the visuals are, a feast for the eyes. Amazing editing of the scenes too, including fades and wipes. It has a good story, good side plots, the acting is great. Especially in how believable the young actress plays Alexandria.  As you watch the 'real' vs. 'imagined' worlds you'll begin to spot the overlaps, the re-use of the 'real' folks at the hospital environment as they reappear in the 'imagined' scenes, just like Dorothy's overlap of 'real' and 'imagined' as shown in "The Wizard of Oz". Sure there could have been influences on the director's vision by those films that came before, but it is a really good film and does invoke nods to the great films that preceded it without copying or referencing them.

I realize at this point I've set a high bar for this film to meet in description and by the film cross-references I've made. I can't help it, I really liked this film. I just would hate to set a new viewer's expectations high then hear they were disappointed in the end because the film didn't meet them.
Apologies. I'm still kinda jazzed after watching the film because I haven't seen anything quite like it before, not on this film's scale.

Definitely worth finding and watching at some point, especially if you liked "The Princess Bride" and/or "Pan's Labyrinth".  I am surprised this film hasn't had more buzz.

Parting thought - the title of the film is just as multilayered as the story.

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