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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “The Fall” (2006)

September 19, 2011

I had no idea about this movies existence, it took a friend of mine (you know who you are), mentioning it, asking me if I’ve heard of it. I looked into it; read the plot, has a cast of no big names, but a few familiar ones. So, I decided to Netflix it. As I started the movie, what caught my attention was the first piece of text presented, it reads: Spike Jonze & David Fincher present… Two filmmakers I’m a huge fan of, have participated in this movie, you got me movie!

I liked the movie quite a lot; the stunning visuals, the strong acting, the sets, the score, however the story seemed a little pretentious for my taste. It came off as an art house version of “The Neverending Story”. At some points the film seemed a little too full of itself. But, it didn’t stop me from watching the whole.

Set in a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman, Roy Walker (Lee Pace), begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a fantastical story about five mythical heroes on a quest for vengeance. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality starts to blur as the tale advances. Being paralyzed and the loss of his girlfriend, Roy ends up in a traumatic state; only Alexandria is there, to comfort him, and make him continue telling the story for both their sakes.

The acting by then six-year-old Catinca Untaru is outstanding. Every scene she was in, every movement, every laugh, and every choice of words was authentic as they come by. She was naturally funny, sweet, and adorable, which made her all the more likeable & connective. Lee Pace was also strong here in what appears to be his first lead role. I don’t understand why he doesn’t get more lead roles, he was fantastic on the short live ABC series “Pushing Daisies” and his performance here was just as great. He was given some top-notch dramatic scenes, which he led very strongly. The chemistry between Lee & Catinca was an ideal match. He didn’t treat her like a child but as another broken soul wanting to learn about more.

The beautiful cinematography by Colin Watkinson and Ged Clarke’s production design are breathtaking. It was like seeing a painting come to life frame by frame. The desert scenes, the blue village, they were all just astounding to look at. By juxtaposing the bland, dark, depressing hospital to the fantastical world that Roy’s story takes place in was right on the money. The entire movie itself was an eye-candy to lovers of great camera work. But, where its strengths strive on the visual aspect and acting, it still falls flat in the story.

The audience, including me, were sucked into the visuals so much that we forgot there was an actual story going on. Roy’s story, the quest, is mundane at best and falls into the hands of typical adventure clichés, and sub sequentially falls into a similar ending to “Neverending Story”. The last scene is anti-climactic, we’re supposed to get that image of how Roy’s accident happened, and it’s never shown. I felt cheated out of that respect.

But, with a flat story, the strengths are still visible, and I would highly recommend this movie for the viewing pleasure of getting to see some incredible cinematography and sweet acting between Lee Pace and six-year-old Catinca Untaru. I’d like to see this girl in more films, I’m sure her time will come once again.

GRADE: B

Special thanks to Rochelle Slofkis for the movie suggestion/request

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