Couch Pumpkin: Sofa Adventures
News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

Fall for The Fall

Last week a friend posted the trailer for The Fall on her blog, which reminded me I had wanted to see this film for some time. I’m very glad I decided to watch it, because I enjoyed it hugely. Unfortunately its release a couple of years ago went largely unnoticed, so I’ve decided to make this review spoiler free in the hopes of persuading you to seek out this little gem of a movie.

The story of its creation is almost as remarkable as the movie itself. Directed by Tarsem (Singh, previously known for the Jennifer Lopez flop The Cell), The Fall took years to film in over 18 countries. It uses real world locations that are, in many cases, so breathtakingly beautiful that they seem more unreal than Avatar‘s computer generated landscapes. Another interesting fact about the movie is that its star, Catinca Untaru, was a Romanian schoolgirl discovered by casting scouts in her home country. She didn’t speak English.

There are two strands of the story in The Fall. The first shows Catinca’s character, Alexandria, a young immigrant girl in hospital in 1920s Los Angeles. She befriends injured stuntman Roy (played by Lee Pace) and he begins to tell her a wild story about a group of bandits seeking revenge against the evil Governor Odious. As their relationship develops, Roy begins to manipulate Alexandria with the help of the story.

The relationship between Roy and Alexandria is simply lovely – I defy you not to fall in love with Pace when you see him interact so affectionately with the tooth-achingly sweet Untaru. This is the real heart of the movie, and you need to buy into it to enjoy the whole thing, I think. The naturalism of Untaru’s performance is so delightful and charming – particularly the scene where she feeds Roy a stolen Communion wafer.

The ‘story within a story’ is a little lightweight, but beautifully shot in the aformentioned fantastical landscapes. It’s like the Wizard of Oz and the Princess Bride getting together to shoot a car commercial (Tarsem’s previous occupation). I particularly liked the way that, although we hear Roy telling the story, we see what Alexandria visualises – so Charles Darwin ends up wearing a sort of psychedelic pimp coat and bowler hat.

Another great aspect of the movie is its comment on the relationship between film, storytelling and imagination. Its setting in the early days of Hollywood puts an emphasis on this, and the conclusion, which I won’t spoil for you, does so as well. In a way it’s a love letter to the cinema, whilst showing off its best side with an emotionally engaging plot, a bit of swashbuckling adventure and gorgeous cinematography. The Fall won’t appeal to you if you’re looking for a typical blockbuster, but if you appreciate amazing visuals and can put yourself back into a state of childlike wonder, I wholeheartedly recommend this film.

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One Response to “Fall for The Fall”


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