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Reel Critic:

‘Fall’ is intense, but it’s beautiful

May 17, 2008|By Mary Burkin

With a director from India, a child actress from Romania, a dreamy-looking leading man from Oklahoma and location shots from 18 incredibly stunning, story-book-lavish countries, “The Fall” isn’t so much an international film as a film about just one place — the tortured, triumphant human heart.

At first, it seems that “The Fall” of the title happened sometime before the movie started.

An adorable little immigrant girl named Alexandria (unforgettably played by Catinca Untaru) had fallen and broken her collarbone while helping her family pick oranges in the fields around Los Angeles, circa 1920.

While recovering in the hospital, Alexandria throws a note out of a second-story window, meant for Evelyn, her favorite nurse (Justine Waddell). But the note lands on the lap of a suicidal young stuntman named Roy (the truly excellent Lee Pace, who bravely holds his own in scenes with tiny Catinca).

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Roy isn’t dealing very well with his actress-girlfriend’s betrayal, or the possibility that he may never walk again after making an especially dangerous stunt-jump.

Is it Roy’s kind heart that leads him to charm Alexandria with his tall tales about bandit heroes and ruthless villains? Or does he have a more sinister motive for making her his friend?

It’s easy to let yourself fall in love in the two separate worlds that Roy and Alexandria move in and out of with ease.

There’s the world of the five mythical heroes in Roy’s tale, out to take their just revenge against the evil Governor Odious (who bears a strong resemblance to the handsome actor Roy’s girlfriend ran off with).

For the unique and unquestionably stunning beauty of this film, especially in the adventure-tale sequences, many thanks are due to cinematographer Colin Watkinson; film editor Robert Duffy; composer Krishna Levy; production designer Ged Clarke; art director Lisa Hart; and costume designer Eiko Ishioka.

But the lion’s share of credit goes to director Tarsem Singh, the person most responsible for this fabulous vision.

In terms of production values, the film holds its own with any big-name Hollywood blockbuster. But the comparison ends there. “The Fall” has the look and feel of a movie made for the sheer joy of reaching for someone else’s soul. There’s no doubt that the film’s producers would like to see a good return on their investment.

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