Title: The Fall
Author: Tarsem Singh
A little girl winds up in the hospital after a nasty accident and makes friends with an injured stuntman who tells her stories of a fantasy world filled with mythical people to help her forget the problems in her life.
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 stuntman (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