No, no, this is not the Gillian Anderson TV series.
This is, by far, the most underrated film I’ve ever seen. And the thought of people underrating this movie makes me a bit upset. I watched this film in the same weekend with Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth. Unbeknownst to me, both of these 2006-released fantasy movies brought me a huge amount of feelings and partly teenage angst. The difference? One of them is Oscar-celebrated. Well, damn, I wished the Oscars had picked the /other/ fantasy movie to be celebrated. (Doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Pan’s Labyrinth, in fact, I praise both movies in a spiritual way, but I thought The Fall was a bit better than Labyrinth.)
The Fall was set in a 1920s hospital just outside Los Angeles. It tells a tale of Roy Walker, a stuntman who got his leg injured and taken care in the hospital. On a random turn of events, he met the cheerful little Alexandria, with a broken arm. In exchange of helping him getting morphine from the hospital pharmacy, the stuntman told the little girl an epic story of five heroes on a mission to defy a big bad.
This film defines what storytelling meant to us in our childhood; well, at least, mine. When people tell me stories, I imagine them vividly as something real and epic. I imagine the characters to be “faceclaimed” by someone I know (Wait, I still do that! But now, with celebrities). In the story Roy told her, Alexandria imagined the characters’ faces as personas she met in the hospital. The movie’s imagery shifts between reality in the hospital and fantasy in Alexandria’s mind. As the film goes on, the line between fantasy and reality started to blur, and /feelings/ started to conquer the story.
Oh, and speaking about the imagery, this film offers you heaps of A+ costume design and cinematography porn. There’s no adjective accurate enough to explain it! The landscapes makes you want to puke rainbows and fly into the sun; it just seems so unreal. The costume design might remind you of Queen Amidala from Star Wars; the difference is that it fuses culture and fantasy into one beautiful melting pot. The interpretation of Alexandria’s imagination is deeper than ever. (Also, this film was shot in 28 countries for 4 years. THAT isn’t CGI, you guys. That is honest, plain, Mother Earth – the creativity and marvel of landscapes that humans can’t even match or compete.)
Oh, and have I mentioned that one of the scenes filmed in this movie was filmed in Bali and featured Tari Kecak?
Aside from the artistic beauty of this wonderful film, there were also beautiful performances by Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug) and newcomer Catinca Untaru in portraying the troubled Roy and the joyous Alexandria. They might’ve gone a little bit melodramatic, but their performances are as realistic as the real world. You never knew Thranduil could act this good. (He also did a GREAT job as Thranduil; if you haven’t seen Lee Pace in The Hobbit, see the film now.)
Tarsem Singh pulled off a beautiful direction and also a beautiful storyline that will make you consume a month’s stock of Kleenex. He puts in little quirks of childhood adorable-ness and adventure-y tropes amidst the getting-darker-storyline. He could sneakily destroy our hearts while keeping us in our seats – he makes us want our hearts to be broken by the story. Why? The morphine gives you a clue – you know where this leads to. One thing is for sure: this movie is about saving someone.
In conclusion: this movie is something out of a dream. Wondrous cinematography, costume design, story, and acting sums it all. EVERYONE should watch it, in fact! (Oops, no kids, though. Brief amounts of graphic gore is visible.) Go watch it, and I’ll be waiting as you rip your wet Kleenex while screaming in vain.