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THE FALL

Director: TARSEM

U.S.A. • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 117 MIN


FILMED OVER FOUR YEARS IN 23 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, THIS VISUALLY RAVISHING ARABIAN NIGHTS-STYLE TALE IS LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE SEEN BEFORE. UNLESS, THAT IS, YOU SAW DIRECTOR TARSEM’s DEBUT FEATURE THE CELL, OR KNOW HIS POP VIDEO FOR R.E.M.’s LOSING MY RELIGION OR HYPER-STYLISED ADS FOR NIKE, PEPSI AND LEVI’S.
In a hospital on the edge of 1920’s Los Angeles, stuntman Roy Walker (Lee Pace), who smashed his legs when his horse fell from a bridge into the river, befriends Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a five-year-old girl whose broken arm is in plaster. Bedbound and suicidal after losing his girlfriend (Justine Waddell) to the movie’s handsome leading man, Roy entrances the girl with a fantastical tale about five heroes — a masked bandit, an explosives expert, an ex-slave, an Indian and Charles Darwin — each of whom has a score to settle with the odious Governor Odious.
As Roy spins his episodic tale, it comes alive in Alexandria’s vivid imagination as a string of sumptuous episodes featuring mysterious princesses, swimming elephants, whirling dervishes and dozens of eye-pleasing exotic locations. But escapist fantasy and harsh reality start to meld when we realise that Roy has ulterior motives. By befriending Alexandria, he hopes to trick her into stealing morphine pills from the dispensary, so he can kill himself.
Loosely based on the 1981 Bulgarian film called Yo Ho Ho, Tarsem’s visionary movie is a magnificent folly. Catinca Untaru is captivating as Alexandria and the fusion of fluid imagery and music is mesmerising. The uneven tone and sometimes shaky storytelling make for a film of extraordinary moments. — Nigel Floyd.

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