The Fall is about stuntman, Roy Walker (Lee Pace), who is hospitalized in 1915 Los Angeles after he takes a fall during a dangerous stunt and faces possible paralysis in the hospital. It is here he meets Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a young girl suffering from a broken arm, and convinces her to steal medication for him while entertaining her with stories of the epic adventures of a group of bandits.
The film opens in a mesmerizing slow motion sequence of the events just after the accident takes place. Set against Beethoven’s 2nd movement, allegretto, of his 7th symphony, it sets the tone of the cinematic splendor that is to come.
Roy’s internal struggle is deeper than the possibility of being permanently paralyzed. He suffers from a broken heart recently caused by an actress who left him for a leading man in films. Roy’s low spirits affect his ability to recover, and his only goal at this point is to end his own life. However, his inability to walk is what leads him to his friendship with Alexandria, whose youth and innocence enable her to blindly obtain pills for Roy to kill himself.
Their friendship is the driving force in this film. The story often drags when Roy is telling the stories of the bandits, particularly when his narration stops and we are left alone with the bandits while they hunt down Governor Odious, a representation of the man who stole Roy’s girl. However, it’s during the story of the bandits that the art direction and cinematography burst from the screen. The extravagant locations of this film draw you into a cinematic experience that would be difficult to replicate considering Tarsem Singh filmed for 4 years and invested his own money into the project to ensure the artistic integrity wouldn’t be changed.
Although the middle of the movie is a little slow, the ending makes up for it with a powerful scene between Roy and Alexandria that will leave you tears. Both performances were incredibly authentic, which was most likely a result of Tarsem Singh’s purposeful directing with Catinca Untaru. Most of her lines were unscripted, and supposedly, Tarsem Singh convinced the cast and crew that Lee Pace was actually paralyzed to enhance the authenticity of Catinca’s performance. Of course, this was before Lee Pace was as well known as he is today.
The Fall is an incredibly ambitious project and should be celebrated for its beautiful, artistic endeavor. It’s a movie you want to see because there might not be another one like it for a long time.
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