Monday, 6 April 2009

Underrated: 5 reasons why The Fall deserves your respect

Never before has a trailer for a film caught me so off guard as for The Fall. When I first saw it I had heard no buzz about the film at all but the trailer left me fascinated; why was such a sprawling, visually stunning movie creeping in under the radar? True, it had a no-name cast, a director who had only made one previous film, and a budget far smaller then its grand scope let on but this only peaked my interest and I made it my mission to see this film. This proved to be a more difficult task than I imagined, with the film being released in the U.K. almost 2 years after it had originally premiered at Toronto. The film has begun to get some love, with Roger Ebert in particular giving it an enthusiastic review, but it still remains sorely underrated, not least for the following reasons...

The Locations

Real, non-CGI, stunning locations from around the world. CGI may allow you to create any landscape you choose, but this was not an option for director Tarsem. He financed much of the film and over a period of four years took his actors around the world shooting scenes as they went. Its the kind of attitude a studio producer would balk at but The Fall is a labour of love. Tarsem's method may not have been the most time or cost effective but by shooting in the beautiful, hidden locations that the world has available, the film appears far more expensive then it actually is. Its all the more impressive that the film feels so surreal and stylised, much like 300, but without a green screen in sight.

Catinca Untaru

I'm really not a fan of child actors. They're either played up to be too cute or are molded by the industry to become far too self aware. Dakota Fanning is a good example. Catinca Untaru's was one child performance I did like. To date, The Fall, is her only screen acting performance and I would not be surprised if it was her last. She is not a product of Hollywood, she's a slightly chubby Romanian who can't really boast the child 'acting' ability of Dakota and co. But what is so good about her performance is that you never really think of her as acting at all. Every emotion she expresses seems genuine and heartfelt and rumour has it that she genuinely believed actor Lee Pace was a paraplegic rather than just his character. I can believe that; Untaru doesn't seem to be a character, she just seems to be acting herself, and is all the more believable because of it.

The blurring of reality

The fairytale-mirroring-real-life concept is far from new, and many narrative-within-narrative stories tend to over do it to the point that it becomes gimmicky but in The Fall its done with subtlety; reminding us that the epic story of revenge is the product of 2 people's imagination yet not requiring us to analyse the tiny details until we lose sight of the story. The characters cross over and the villain is inevitable but I love the little details. Watch out for the similarity between the henchmen's armour and the X-ray suits and the appearances of each of the revenge seeking heroes in very small, blink-and-you-miss-them roles in and around the hospital. Its not essential to the storyline, but its well thought out and demonstrates this film has far too much depth to be dismissed as a piece of eye-candy.

The Dark Themes

Every fantasy film that comes out these days seems to assume that darker is better but The Fall managed to trump them without even really trying. The film may be a story of a man telling a fairytale to a child but it is one of anger, revenge and death. The story reflects the ever changing mentality of its storyteller, suicidal and heartbroken, as he becomes increasingly desperate, so does the story. It doesn't take long to realise that he is not entertaining and gaining the trust of the child for her benefit and sets Untaru's Alexandria up as a symbol for hope and redemption. This is a grown-up and knowingly cynical tale that evolves with the characters to set up brilliantly intense climax.

And Finally, this guy...

'nuff said.

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1 comment:

  1. Great wrap-up of the film! I just saw it and loved it!


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