Apr 11, 2009

[Movies] The Fall (2006)

The Fall (2006)Tarsem Singh is the genius behind the visual assault that was The Cell, an interesting exploration of the mind of a serial killer from the inside. His visuals, style and imagery were certainly beyond the conventional and really put him kind of far out there in terms of eccentricity of vision. It's a shame he ended up using Jennifer Lopez for that movie - I feel it took something away from it.

We didn't hear much from him many years after that until this movie came along, one that I didn't even hear about until recently through a friend of mine. From the opening credits I was hooked and I even feel the urge to revisit The Cell just to compare his progress as a filmmaker.

I know I have a rule about not comparing the movie with the original source material, and that still holds true. This time, however, I can't help but feel the need to compare this movie with his last film, if only to emphasize his cinematic vision and style in such matters. I hope you don't mind too much.

The Fall is another seemingly magical journey into the realms of imagination, this time through the eyes of a child. In this film, Roy Walker (Lee Pace before he was The Pie Maker) entertains a young girl (Catinca Untaru), who is also staying at the same hospital he is, by telling her stories of a hero known as the Blue Bandit. As their friendship grows, not everything as it seems and Roy's storytelling serves a different purpose than mere whim or fancy.

The film originally debuted in 2006 but was publicly released in 2008, so it may seem like this is a rather "new" movie, when it's not. I have to admit I as a tad confused about the timing as well and it all started to make sense to me when I started reading through different websites.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  Actor Lee Pace attend...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This is a highly character-driven story given it is presented as switching between the mundane world of the 1920s and the highly colorful fantasy world of Roy's stories. Thus the actors play a significant role and I definitely have to give credit to Lee Pace here - he does a pretty well job of bringing Joy to life and not just appearing as Ned from Pushing Daisies in a different outfit. Moreso the bulk of the credit goes to the child actress who portrayed Alexandria, the young Catinca Untaru, since her role wasn't at all simple. She had a lot of dialog to go through and many different sequences that probably demanded a lot out of her.

Give the man behind the movie, this film is really driven by its visuals. It's not because of amazing special effects or anything simple like that, oh no. This is about sheer cinematic genius in terms of vision and shot composition. Whether you're talking about his highly creative transitions between scenes, the startling contrasts in costumes versus the backgrounds or the grand set pieces organized through large numbers of actors all performing specific yet interrelated tasks, Singh really brings it together. In The Cell, one was too distracted by the disturbing nature of the movie and how it was more of a horror / suspense piece. This movie still has its unsettling moments, but not to the same degree and it allows you to follow the story along more comfortably.

Thus it also is key that the story itself was rather tight and neat. It made sense despite all the various plot threads going on and all the little details that may not seem important right away, but you as a viewer realize that they are in face meaningful and thus you need to pay attention. It's not an easy movie to watch and will feel a tad slow at some points, but that'll only happen if you underestimate the film and don't try to appreciate the wonder in the details of the film.

This is a brilliant movie, one that truly makes you use full use of all your senses in the effort of presenting a story that challenges the mind. I'd recommend this to all geeks interested in something beyond the ordinary and not too hung up on big Hollywood names or established franchises.


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