Reviewed on 12/8/2008...
The Fall is one of those rare movies that sucks you in and wrenches you around like a roller coaster- in the best of ways. When its over, it leaves you stunned, amazed and enchanted. I kept asking myself- how had I never heard of this movie, HOW COULD I NEVER HAVE HEARD OF THIS MOVIE?? As a profound lover of fantasy of all kinds, only 2 fantasy films have ever had such a real, lasting, devastating effect on me; Pan's Labyrinth and The Fall.
Its the story of a young girl recovering from a broken arm in a rural hospital. There she meets Roy, a studio stuntman (the film is set in the early days of Hollywood). Roy has just lost his girlfriend to a leading man, and the use of his legs in a stunt gone wrong. His only desire is to end his life. Roy begins entertaining young Alexandria with stories in an effort to gain her trust, so he can manipulate her into unknowingly bringing him enough morphine to commit suicide. But the story he tells her begins to take on a life of its own, and through Alexandria's innocent courage and love, the story will change both their lives.
Its the story of 5 heroes seeking revenge on a common enemy, Governor Odious. The five heroes and their quest come to life in gorgeous color and detail as Alexandria imagines them, complete with her childish mistakes (Roy describes one as an Indian meaning Native American, Alexandria pictures an Indian from India). Perhaps what makes the film's visual beauty so astounding is that none of it is computer generated. Every fantastic landscape is real.
Even as Roy's fantasy world becomes more beautiful and enchanting, it begins encroaching on the real world, and comes perilously close to the pain of reality.
Actress Catinca Untaru gives, hands down, the best performance by a child actor I've ever seen. I've read that she was largely unscripted, so that her responses are genuine. She looks, talks and acts like a real child, making the fairy-tale world so much more believable. The rest of the cast is superb, the story is original and captivating, and the visuals are unforgettable. This is a fairy tale for the mind and heart, a fairy tale about real people as cowards and heroes, a gorgeous heart-wrenching fantasy.
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