Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Fall (2006)

IMDb plot summary: In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastic story of five mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality blurs as the tale advances.
Directed by Tarsem Singh. Starring Catinca Untaru, Lee Pace, and Justine Waddell.

(Major spoilers ahead for the end of the movie.)

I get why people love this movie. It looks gorgeous, it has one of the best child actor performances I've ever seen, it has a magical fantasy/reality blend. It really is the kind of movie that WOULD pick up a cult following. And parts of it I loved too. Specifically, I was captivated by every one of the real-life scenes, with Lee Pace and the little girl. I found their interactions charming and fascinating, and even as Lee Pace became kind of a despicable character (seriously, what kind of twisted person makes a little girl sob by killing off all the characters she loved just because he's sad?) I was still intrigued by their interactions. I would have happily watched an entire movie just with the two of them doing nothing but chatting together.

However, the fantasy sequences. With all the symbolism. And I mean ALL the symbolism. As much as I like fantasy/reality-blending movies, I also like SOME subtlety. Not everything has to represent something else. This story he tells her is so full of over-the-top symbolism that it just feels like the director is going, "Do you get it? This bandit represents her father! And that girl represents his girlfriend! DO YOU GET IT? Do you see how it all fits together? I'm so clever!" There's no reason that would even be the case, since he is telling her the story for a very specific reason (to convince her to steal pills for him), not to carefully craft an allegory that somehow carries an important message for both himself and the little girl.

My reaction to the fantasy sequences greatly reduced the impact of the climactic scene, where the parallels between the story and reality become even more overt than they were before. I found myself rolling my eyes and saying, "YES, I GET IT."

It's possible that this one might grow on me. If I rewatched it knowing what to expect, I might not be so thrown off by the hypersymbolic nature of the fantasy scenes. The real life scenes are engaging enough that I'd be willing to give this a second watch someday. 3 stars.

Flickchart: #1051 out of 2030, below The Absent-Minded Professor and above The Kids Are All Right.

Purchase digitally for $9.99.

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