The Scoop: 2006 R, directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Catinca Untaru, Lee Pace, and Justine Waddell
Tagline: A Little Blessing In Disguise.
Summary Capsule: Two patients, a little girl and a stuntman, start telling a story that’s more Grimm than Disney.
Eunice’s Rating:“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things….”
Eunice’s Review: I fell (pun intended) for The Fall the first time I saw its trailer. And then when I actually saw the movie I couldn’t stop watching it. And after I returned it to ye olde video rental store I turned around and bought a copy of my own. It was going to be my first review for MRFH.
Some movies are just hard to write reviews for. In fact, this is my fifth try.
In ’20s California, a little girl named Alexandria is in the hospital with a broken arm. This is the setting of the real world half. Almost taking a slice of life approach, we see the people she interacts with and the world through her point of view. One day she meets Roy, a man who broke his back, but suffers more from a broken heart.
Together they begin making up a story. The story is about five “bandits” and their need for revenge against villain Governor Odious. While Roy says the words that tell the story, Alexandria’s imagination is what paints the pictures. For instance, Roy, who was working as a stuntman on a silent western when he had his accident, says one of the bandits is an “Indian” who had a “squaw.” What Alexandria sees is her friend who is from India and a woman in a sari. See what I mean? As she continues to fill out the cast with people she knows, she gives Roy the lead role of The Black Bandit.
And where to go next is when this movie gets hard to describe: it has comedy but one of the two leads is suicidally depressed, it has moments of sweetness but also of viciousness and can be downright mean. Love, but also death and lots of it.
And it’s so visual. At the risk of sounding like a snooty butthead, I’ll use the word sumptuous. Bold colors, creative costumes, meticulous location scouting, all tied together with the fairytale. It comes dangerously close to the line of pretention a couple times, but never goes over. The phrase “feast for the eyes” was made for it.
But more than anything, more than the visuals or the unique approach to storytelling and the responsibility of the storyteller, even more than the fact that the way Lee Pace drawls out the word “soul” makes me toes curl (and he uses it about eight times in one scene – rowr), is the chemistry of Alexandria and Roy. Catinca Untaru is just this adorable little girl who acts like a little girl instead of a child actress, she’s refreshing. And this, teamed with Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, is my “Hey, who is that?” moment movie for Mr. Pace and he has been officially inducted into my actor harem. When they’re on screen together they light up and I just can’t take my eyes off them. According to the commentary, a lot of the dialogue between the two only loosely follows a script so they are actually just talking to each other and it’s marvelous. Honestly, I think of The Fall as a movie that’s a love story without being a romance. I mean what would you call a movie that comes down to the question of whether or not your life’s worth living just because one person loves you and doesn’t want you to die?
Just to make clear, this isn’t a kid’s movie. Like I said the movie is from Alexadria’s POV, but, like in a mystery, there’s clues to the more adult storylines happening in the real world that the viewer is allowed to catch snatches of here and there. You’ll have to watch it more than once to put together everything that’s going on. There’s a plot development about midway through (I’ve hinted at it, but don’t want to give away the details) that paints a good chunk of the second half in a near-disturbing light. And while Roy gets more depressed, and Alexandria runs into scarier and scarier things in the real world, their story gets darker and more violent.
It’s a beautiful movie with two amazing leads, but it’s also not a movie I can unequivocally say, “You must see this.” Or, “I know you’ll love it if you give it a chance.” Because people (or at least the ones I’ve asked/forced to watch it) seem to be in two distinct categories: Either they love it loads, or they just don’t get it at all. I do think you should see it, and give it a chance, because you might love it. I just can’t tell you ahead of time what you’ll take away with you. I don’t know. Heck, one more reason I’ve had such a hard time reviewing it is, while I know I love it, I can’t list out why.
I mean, it’s one of those movies, ya know?
- The Fall is inspired by/a remake of the Bulgarian movie Yohoho. Since Tarsem Singh doesn’t like pirate movies he changed it to bandits.
- Tarsem Singh and Lee Pace told most of the cast and crew that Lee was a real paraplegic so Catinca Untaru would think so. Lee kept up the pretense to the point of using a wheelchair, staying in the bed during breaks, and being carried up stairs.
- By the time the story sequences were shot, Catinca Untaru’s front teeth had grown in. They added the line “I didn’t recognize you because you have teeth.”
- Governor Odious was originally going to be the story version of Walt. But it was later decided that since at this point the story was more Roy’s to make him Sinclair’s opposite. Walt’s repeated line of “I’m not feeling very well.” was left in.
- Kinda like Pan’s Labyrinth, Singh made the ending to be a bit of a glass half full or empty test. Do you think it’s really Roy and he’s fine, or does Alexandria just think it is?
- I thought Johnny Depp was the only guy who could look that hot in eyeliner. Again I say rowr.
- How cool is the chanting/map scene?
- The old man is soo cute! I just want to put him in my pocket and feed him a diet of Skittles and cotton candy.
- Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit the weird dolls puppets head surgery part scares me a little.
Repeated line: Googly googly googly!
Roy: You leave her alone.
The Black Bandit: I will destroy him! And every Spanish thing.
Alexandria: I thought he was Spanish?
Roy: … No …he was French.
The Black Bandit: Are you wit me Bandeets?
Bandits: Oui, capitaine!
Alexandria: You always stop at the same part, when it’s very beautiful, and interesting.
Roy: Are you trying to save my soul?
Alexandria: Why the mask again?
Roy: Because he didn’t want to scare her. She doesn’t know anything about him, but he knew everything about her.
Alexandria: How did you know about the priest and the oranges?
Roy: Everybody knows you like to throw oranges at the priest. Even the priest knows.
Luigi: “My dearest daughter, never marry for money, fame, power, or security. Always follow your heart. Your ever loving father-”
The Black Bandit: It says all that on that little locket?
Alexandria: I fell again.
Roy: I heard. Everybody’s heard. You’re famous.
Alexandria: Are they angry?
Roy: Yeah, but not at you.
Roy: You should ask someone else. There’s no happy ending with me.
Alexandria: I still want to know.
Alexandria: Why are you killing everybody? Why are you making everybody die?
Roy: It’s my story!
Alexandria: Mine too.
Alexandria: I don’t want you to die. Don’t kill him. Let him live. Let him live. Don’t kill him. Promise? And don’t cross your fingers!
Roy: I promise.
Alexandria: Show me your hands!
Roy: *holds up hands* See?
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Pan’s Labyrinth
- Millennium Actress