The Fall: Strange, Beautiful, and Overlooked

Article first published as Movie Review: The Fall (2006) – Strange, Beautiful, and Overlooked on Blogcritics.

Tarsem Singh’s The Fall is a gem of a movie that seems to have passed under many a moviegoer’s radar. Directed by Singh in 2006 and released to theaters in 2008, The Fall exhibits a stylistically stunning visual narrative that film enthusiasts with a taste for dramatic flair should not miss.

The Fall follows the psychological journey of Roy Walker (Lee Pace), an injured stuntman living in 1920s Los Angeles. Roy is recuperating in a hospital ward, depressed by the fact that his girlfriend left him. Roy meets Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a five-year-old immigrant girl with a broken arm. He converses with the girl and soon begins to spin elaborate tales of daring adventure for her in attempts to gain her trust. Roy, desperate and miserable, hopes to convince Alexandria to steal morphine tablets for him to overdose on. As Roy’s outlook on life grows increasingly grim, so does the world of fantasy he creates with words. In the end, it is up to Alexandria to take a part in Roy’s story and save him from himself.

The Fall is an unusual film in many ways. It is contemporary, surreal, and fantastical. While the film has a choice few moments of understated reflection, most of its charm comes from its over-the-top cinematic style. Since much of the film revolves around Alexandria’s imagining of Roy’s tale, the film takes on the shockingly vivid colorations and dramatic landscapes of a child’s mind. What’s remarkable about The Fall is that every example of astounding architecture and scenery used as backdrops exists in real life— no fake sets here.

I love the film for its ostentatious beauty: the dazzling costumes, the exotic settings, and the gorgeous musical score. The Fall uses Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major as the centerpiece for its soundtrack, and I would argue that this is the best use of this piece of music in any film to date (including The King’s Speech, which used the piece to stunning effect).

I write this review fully aware that this film is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people may loathe The Fall for the same reasons I love it: the film is unabashedly artsy, strange, and grandiose. And, admittedly, the characters can stray into melodrama at times, but that can be excused when one considers that much of the action takes place in the realm of a five-year-old’s imagination.

In the end, however, the most beautiful thing about this movie is not the costumes, scenery, or music, but what both Roy and Alexandria gain from having met one another. The Fall is dark, beautiful, and tragic– a tale of loss and growth. The Fall is unlike any other film I have ever seen, and firmly takes a place among my top favorite movies.

-Alyssa

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About I've seen that movie, too

I'm just a girl who loves talking about music and movies. And music in movies.
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5 Responses to The Fall: Strange, Beautiful, and Overlooked

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    I dunno, it came off as rather hollow….

    And, just for your info, this was an indie film, hence a minuscule release/dinky budget/his own money — HOWEVER, the film made its point, Singh has two big budget Hollywood features waiting to be release Immortals (2011) and Snow White project with Julia Robberts. And 35,000 + votes on imdb means that this film at least made its way with DVD sales/rentals even if it missed a major release…

  2. Yes, I did hear that this was very much a pet project for Tarsem. I only know a couple of people that have heard of it, and their reviews are mixed. I agree that the movie has its faults, but it really hit a chord with me. I can’t wait to see what Tarsem does with a sizeable budget!

  3. Joachim Boaz says:

    I don’t have high hopes — the minuscule budget at least forces non-CGI special effects — which appears to be the antithesis of his new projects. The Fall was so poignant and powerful BECAUSE the special effects, albeit spectacular, where restrained by our natural world — the wonders of earth….

  4. You have a good point. We’ll have to see what direction Tarsem chooses to go in when he’s faced with a whole new challenge: not a shoestring budget, but the challenge to maintain integrity and heart in a big-budget film.

  5. Joachim Boaz says:

    I place money on the potential outcome — CGI creates heartless films… haha… not always, but in his hands I suspect so.

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