Movie Review: The Fall

When I went to see The Counterfeiters at Magnolia a few months ago, I saw the poster for The Fall.  It caught my eye as I was headed to the ladies room before the movie started.  I stood transfixed by the poster. 

I’m not really sure why; I just stared at it a few moments, and then I saw the starring line, and great googly moogly, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Lee Pace was the star?!  Then I got to see a trailer for it before The Counterfeiters, and I was speechless.  I HAD to see this movie!

Ok, so at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Who the heck is Lee Pace?”  Well, he’s only the cutest thing to ever hit the silver screen.  If it’s possible, I’m more enamored with him than Daniel Day Lewis and Hugh Jackman put together.  Yeah, I know; it’s probably hard to believe, but I think it’s got a lot to do with the character he was playing the first time I ever saw him: Ned, the Piemaker, from Pushing Daisies.

I could write an entirely separate blog on how much I love, love, love Pushing Daisies.  If you didn’t catch any of the abbreviated (due to the writer’s strike) first season, I highly recommend you try to pick it up on DVD before the second season starts in the fall.  It’s so original, and some might say sickeningly sweet, but I happen to love getting covered in the ooey gooey goodness every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Ok, so I suppose that’s enough of my pimping Pushing Daisies, but you have to understand my love for that show and for Ned to understand why I was so excited to see something else in which Lee Pace starred.  He’s just brilliant, and his brilliance shone during The Fall.

The Fall was directed by Tarsem Singh, who also directed The Cell, and according to one other review I read , The Cell had some great visuals with a bad story, but that person thought he’d finally found a decent story to go with his amazing visuals, and I totally agree.

After seeing the trailer, this was one that I knew I had to see in theaters.  I’d had two botched attempts to see it with friends, and as I checked the Magnolia’s website to see if our final attempt was also destined to be foiled, I found that fate was playing a super nasty trick on me.  So I made time to go see it at the absolute last minute, and I’m so glad I did.

Pace plays Roy Walker, a paraplegic in a turn of the 20th century Los Angeles hospital.  Cantinca Untaru plays Alexandria, a little girl at the same hospital who has broken her arm picking oranges in the California orchards where her family works.  Alexandria stumbles into Roy’s room one afternoon, and an odd friendship ensues.  

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Roy begins to tell Alexandria a tale of 5 men who have each sworn to kill the evil Governor Odious.  Roy’s soothing Southern drawl is the narration, and Alexandria’s imagination provides the characters.  A scary x-ray technician she saw in the hallway becomes the costume for all Governor Odious’ henchmen.  Roy is the protagonist (naturally), and her favorite nurse, Nurse Evelyn, is his love interest, and all the other characters from Roy’s tale have the faces of people from Alexandria’s life.

The scenery was simply spectacular.  I was moved by each scene.  From the vast orange desert, to the “burning bush,” to the greener pastures, and onto the island palace sanctuary: every location was mesmerizingly beautiful.  It was definitely the most imaginative and original film I’ve seen in awhile…maybe ever. 

I was so glad I made the time to see it in a theater; so when you rent it, I highly recommend making arrangements to see it on a high definition or plasma screen TV.

Pace was not a disappointment.  He is an exceptional actor.  Other than his performance on Pushing Daisies, I’ve seen his barely mentionable role in The Good Shepherd, and I saw White Countess, even thought I don’t remember his character at all. 

I also saw a little known Showtime movie called Soldier’s Girl, which I will blog about at a later date.  Each performance was as varied as the locations used to shoot The Fall, and he’s believable in every one.

Untaru’s performance was splendid.  She’s such a child, and it’s so perfect.  Her interactions with Pace were absolutely delightful.  There were moments when I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself, not so quietly, because their conversations were so realistic. 

Pace would say something and she’d agree, and then he’d ask her if she really understood him, and she’d say yes, but you know she didn’t, and they go round and round like that.  It’s precious.

The Fall is one of those films where the trailer is a masterpiece unto itself.  It wasn’t misleading, but there were definitely parts of the film that were contrary to what the trailer represented, but that made it all the more pleasing. 

It perfectly blends the child-like enjoyment of a fantastic fairy tale with the horrible misery of very adult problems.  It reminded me that if we take a few moments to look at things from a child’s perspective, everybody can always use a little “happily ever after” in one way or another.

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