From the director of The Cell comes a visually stunning epic fantasy about a bedridden man who entertains a curious little girl by telling her a fantastical story of exotic heroes and far off places which reflects his state of mind. The central story takes place in a remote 1920's hospital where a small girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) is recovering from a severe looking shoulder injury incurred in a fall while trying to pick oranges. One day she happens to meet Roy (Lee Pace) - a stunt or "gag" man for the "flickers" or moving pictures- who seems to have injured himself out of a future in a particularly reckless stunt, even for those times. He is a clearly unhappy man who- through his own carelessness- unwittingly leads Alexandria to believe that he intends to entertain her with a lavish, epic story of exotic heroes and far off places. As the stuntman's health reaches to the point of peril - so does the story he is telling her...with potentially fatal consequences.
Roger Ebert proclaimed it "one of the most extraordinary films I've ever seen," and there's no denying the avalanche of wild images in The Fall
: grand castles, desert vistas, elephants swimming in the open ocean. Commercial and music-video director Tarsem has piled these visions into an elaborate remake of an obscure Bulgarian film, Yo Ho Ho, which is anchored in (but by no means limited to) a quiet hospital during the silent-movie era. A stunt man (Lee Pace) is laid up with leg injuries, and an eye-popping black-and-white prologue (utterly mystifying while we're watching it) tells us how he got here. Depressed over his disability and a recent lost love, he plans suicide, but is temporarily derailed by the inquisitive friendship of a little girl (Catinca Untaru), to whom he tells wild stories of adventurers and princesses. We see these stories, which is where the dizzying visuals come in. This movie probably won't inspire many lukewarm responses: either you'll fall madly for this paean to storytelling magic, or you'll be suspicious about the parade of pretty pictures, which tend to have a magazine-layout sheen. The movie certainly has more soul than Tarsem's yucky previous feature, The Cell
, and the scenes between Pace and Untaru (who scores an 11 on the cuteness scale) are genuinely charming. The director actually put a considerable amount of his own money into the production (which shot in over 20 countries), and whether you buy his vision or not, he put his money on the screen. --Robert Horton