DVD Review: Cleaner
Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Film Review: The Fall

FALL still

Personal interpretation plays a huge part in the dissection of “The Fall.” This is not a picture to accept at face value; it’s a layered, multi-dimensional fairy tale, splattered with enough ostentation to make a 19-year-old art school student blush. It’s bold, brave, and baffling. It’s also completely intolerable.

Stuck in a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920s, stuntman Roy (Lee Pace) is left without the use of his legs after an accident, finding his livelihood and personal life torn away during recovery. There he befriends Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a five-year-old Romanian girl with a broken arm and vivid imagination. To help ease his pain, Roy beguiles the young girl with fantastical stories of bandits and revenge, gently gaining Alexandria’s trust and using her youthful naiveté to help him end his own life.

Shot over the course of three years in 20 countries, “The Fall” is a visual spectacle intended to bathe the eyes in abstract fragments of imagination. The director is Tarsem, who pulled the exact same stunt eight years ago with the lackluster serial killer lullaby, “The Cell.” Tarsem is widely hailed as a photographic authority, and if there’s anything to praise about this muddled film it’s his ceaseless hunger for spectacle. The filmmaker desires the fantasy sections of the movie to invoke enduring awe; to stun the viewer with exhausting examples of screen symmetry, exotic locations, and fairy tale extremity. To that end, it’s a successful movie.

As a living, breathing creation, “Fall” is dead on arrival.

Unlike the “Cell,” which was a purposefully icy, procedural undertaking, “Fall” is hoping to engage the heart, focusing on the relationship between Alexandria and Roy. Their interaction is the core of the film, but the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Both actors are committed to Tarsem’s flights of fancy, but too often the filmmaker leaves the performers alone to bounce off each other naturally. I’m a big supporter of instinctual child behavior on film, but watching Untaru coached by the director is aggravating and exhausting; Pace is often repeating his dialogue ad nauseam to get the girl to respond appropriately to the scene. It’s a major detriment to the emotional peak of the material, since Tarsem uses the friendship as a foundation for every extraordinary moment that follows. Untaru is certainly adorable, but having to fight to understand what’s she’s saying or watching blatant off-camera manipulation to get her worked up takes the dramatic investment right out of the picture.

The rest of “Fall” is a pageant of exaggerated costuming by Eiko Ishoika and flamboyant set-pieces of violence and metaphoric grandeur, as Roy embellishes his tales with his own pain. If Matthew Barney and Alejandro Jodorowsky were in change of filming a Gay Pride parade, it would be similar to what “Fall” has to offer visually. It’s easy to be in awe of what Tarsem has achieved with his painstaking filming process, it just isn’t fascinating; previous attempts to marry heart and wild optical gumption (such as Terry Gilliam’s “Adventures of Baron Munchausen”) have been much more appetizing than the bloodless display of directorial ego present here.





You are so off the mark with this one, it's scary, & undermines my opinion of all your reviews. What off camera manipulation? There was no place in which that was obvious, & scenes where Lee Pace is repeating himself- that's the kind of stuff that happens in REAL life when speaking to a child with a language barrier... You think Tarsem couldn't have picked a scene or rehearsed her to get in one take if he wanted? Lee wasn't trying to GET something out of her. I think you've criticized movies too long, you lost your capacity to just EXPERIENCE something. When watching this in a full theatre, the comments about Catinca is that her performance, & the chemistry is stunning. That there is such a purity in the acting- a REALNESS.

Everyone I have taken to see it was moved, touched, AND viually blown away.

(don't quit your day job Brian)


The review is right now. The movie was forced and the storyline fell apart about 3/4ths of the way into the movie.

It's an interesting effort but as a movie, it really is DOA.

Great review.


i couldn't agree less about the interaction between Pace and Untaru. to me, that was the ribbon around an extraordinary package, holding it all together.


So, I was going to take offense.

Then I saw that you actually enjoyed the shill of the new Indiana flick, and gave Alvin and the Chipmunks a "C" rating.

Seeing that your opinion is actually sub-human in nature, I feel much better - and have little need to prove points.

You know - much like your reviews.

Wow. The Tenacious D movie gets an A? And the CGI-based Superman Returns. Oh, MI:3, too - yeah, that was a totally epic movie.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, "I'm sorry you suck with movies. Get better soon."


Aphex is clearly a guy with major insecurities.

And he has no taste in film.

Brian, keep up the great work. THE FALL is an overcooked nightmare unworthy of release.

You're awesome. Aphex is a clown with severe retardation.


While one's opinion on if this movie is overindulgent or whatever is really up for grabs, this movie is something visually that rarely comes around. Like him or hate him for doing it, Tarsem has created something of a singularity. Certainly not worthy of a D, if nothing else for the rather genuine and simple relationship between Untaru and Pace.


Once again a reviewer punishes a film maker for not churning out the asme-old, same-old. Apparently reviewers such as this one only consider a movie worthwhile if they've been told it's good by the talent-killing Hollywood movie machine. This was an excellent movie that satisfied visually and emotionally. Seeing a child who actually acts like a child and not a mini-quip machine, was wonderful. I'll see anything that Tarsem chooses to deliver based on the orginality and vision of his two films.


'A' for 4th part of Indiana Jones and 'D' for The Fall. That's just ridiculous. You funny:D


This film is all empty calories. Brian, great review.

Tarsem is repeating himself here, and I laugh at all these comments yelling at you for not proclaiming the picture as the most original creation of the year. It's not.

Only buffoons who see two movies a year would be moved by this lazy piece of garbage.

John S

Never trust a poster who says "Great review ... I agreed with it."

Also, an "overcooked nightmare" is by definition "worthy of release," or at least letting me get a chance to see it. With defenders like that dude, I'm surprised you haven't retracted this piece on principle.


I you love a good film, not a popcorn movie, something with feeling and love for the simple fact that Tarsem really gave it his all. You can feel the love in this film, the love that went into it. It's not your run of the mill hollywood bullshit! Yeah he used the same style of film making and huge sets and costumes as the Cell, but that is his style. I thank Tarsem for having the balls for making a good FILM not a movie a FILM. The acting is also top notch and real. That you even review movies is a shame. Most of the people here commenting have more of a nack for film than you sir... you should just give it up and keep your face out of reviews.

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