Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 30, 2008 Released by: Roadside Attractions & Googly Films
This lurid, yet visually stunning picture is from music video/commercial auteur who goes by Tarsem, remembered for the ornate serial killer foray starring Jennifer Lopez, The Cell.
It's another case of style over substance in The Fall, an odd, self-financed project that works from the template of fairy-tale stalwarts like The Wizard of Oz and more recent ones like The Princess Bride.
Avant-garde filmmakers like David Fincher and Spike Jonze "present" this self-indulgent offering shot apparently in many continents, in locations like Turkey, Italy, Fiji, South Africa, and Bali. The ads for Tarsem's film cannot indicate the level of artistic prowess that still manages to keep the viewer at a noticeable distance. Like the denizens of a city who bathed their city in buckets of cobalt blue.
The rather incomprehensible tale supplanted with suicidal care touches on the paralysis of movie stuntman Roy, done with some aplomb by Lee Pace. The morphine administered to him conveys a wild imagination. His audience in an early 20th century hospital is the attentive Alexandria (an adorable, if unintelligible untrained Romanian thespian Catinca Untaru), also a patient. Roy looks to this pre-teen to get the medication needed to numb the severe pain he's enduring.
Thus, Roy fashions something that looks to take your breath away as his far-out fantasy includes hospital folks like the lovely nurse, as played by Justine Waddell. Roy envisions himself as the intrepid masked man and Alexandria his daughter.
In The Fall some may fall deeply into moments when whirling dervishes appear on multi-tiered balconies or underwater elephants. Yet, it's hard not to feel pushed away from the story and characters, in spite of some humanistic touches by Pace and Untaru, as the convolutions too often overtake the striking imagery. It's not for kids, nor the faint of heart, but for those who like something off the beaten path.