The Fall – Review

2 Aug

Speaking as someone who was a child, it’s easy for stories and imagination to blend into the real world. This combination of fantasy and reality for children has been beautifully captured in movies, with my go to prime example being Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Fortunately, as of a few days ago I can add another go to film that explores this theme, but also a film that is one of the most beautiful exercises of cinematography and editing that has ever been used in all of film history. Not only is this a beautiful looking film, it’s story is beautiful. The entire movie itself can only be described as beautiful.

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In the early 1920s when the world of film was evolving, stuntman Roy Walker (Lee Pace) finds himself in a European hospital after severely injuring himself for a particular stunt. He soon finds company in a little Romanian girl, Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), who he begins telling an epic, swashbuckling story of a group of heroes out for revenge on the evil Governor Odious (Daniel Caltagirone). What Alexandria doesn’t know is that this is all a distraction and a ploy for Roy to earn Alexandria’s trust and convince her to steal morphine from the hospital so that he can commit suicide after losing the love of his life and possibly ruining his career. As Alexandria hears more of the story and risks more than she knows trying to steal the morphine, employees in the hospital begin weaving their way into Roy’s story more and more while evils from the story are finding their way into the hospital.

Before I started watching The Fall, I had a concern that this movie was pretty much just going to be about the visuals and the locations. Pretty much I just thought that this movie was going to look nice and lose some points in terms of story. I was happy to see once again that my assumptions were wrong. This movie has a wonderful story that is filled with hallucinatory moments, wonderful moments of childhood, and an imagination that would do Hollywood a lot of good. The Fall was one of those movies that slipped through the cracks, which is really unfortunate since it has so much to offer. I was also surprised to see how little awards were given to this film, especially in terms of cinematography and editing which are some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. It’s like walking into a museum and seeing the paintings come to life.

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One of the best things about this movie is the relationship between Roy and Alexandria. It’s one of the most touching and genuine friendships and really makes you feel the emotional impact when something good or bad happens to either of them. The performances by Pace and Untaru are both really great, and at the risk of sounding redundant, they feel very genuine. This is especially true for the young actress Catinca Untaru who gives a startlingly impressive performance. I’ve never really seen a child actor give a performance that felt so real. Apparently the director Tarsem Singh has Catinca believe that Lee Pace was actually paralyzed, a move that he felt made the performances more real. From what I can see, it actually did work.

Finally, the themes of this movie are very heavy and true to life, much like the ones in Pan’s Labyrinth, which I consider to be the fraternal twin of The Fall, being as they both were released in 2006 and share much of the same thematic material. In The Fall, however, the themes concern self worth, suicide, and childhood innocence and naïvety in both children and adults. It’s so interesting to see the scary adult world filled with violence and self loathing through the eyes of a child who has lost so much, but still doesn’t understand the real meaning of loss. Both characters have suffered loss, but only one seems to be really affected by it while the other is still lost in her own world of innocence. This is a very sad movie, but it also leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and hope for the characters, and possibly even life itself.

The Fall is really a beautiful movie to look at, listen to, and understand. It has swashbuckling adventure, unbelievable visuals, and a core story that is as real as we made out favorite heroes out to be when we were children, ourselves. The way fantasy and reality begin to become one was so interesting to see, and made me think of this movie as another reminder why I love movies as much as I do. It was a perfect combination of talent, idea, and dedication especially since it took four years to film on so many different locations. This is an intelligently executed work of art that would be a sin to miss out on.

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