Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fall: Grade A

The Fall (2008)
Catinca Untaru, Lee Pace. Director Tarsem Singh.

This dreamlike fantasy is a visual masterpiece. Colors, costumes and characters flow past in a kaleidoscope of swirling images. If you weren’t high when you started watching, you will be at the end. An injured, drug-addicted, and suicidal Hollywood stunt man (Pace) is in a 1920’s Los Angeles hospital when he meets a little Romanian girl with a broken arm who barely speaks English (Untaru). The visual of the girl in a cast braced up over her shoulder is indelible. Untaru is a charmer even saying very little, and that is a tribute to the director’s skill (even though I think it is unethical to put such young people in movies). The man tells the girl a fantastic story of five heroes in a desert, all vowing to kill the wicked Count Odious. Pace, in a sort of Sergeant Pepper outfit, also plays the Blue Bandit, leader of the heroes, which include Charles Darwin and his monkey, Alexander the Great, an escaped African slave wearing a fantastic headdress of gazelle horns, too much else to describe.

Costumes are unbelievable, like nothing you've ever seen. The film was shot in 18 countries, and there are beautiful architectural scenes of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Agra. Meanwhile, in the hospital, the man recruits the girl to steal morphine from the dispensary, as that story and the fantasy story increasingly overlap. The iceman for the hospital appears as the slave in the fairy tale, for example. The visual and narrative creativity of this movie is intoxicating. The fantasy story is somehow light-hearted and dramatic at the same time, yet the core story between the man and the girl is consistently engaging, both humorous and poignant. Music is by Beethoven. One of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your replied comment about The Fall. I think most people don't even realize how complicated the plot is. I caught a lot of things I never noticed when watching the director's and actors' commentary. But above all, like you said, this is visual art.