Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Certain films are beautiful in unexpected ways. The Fall is one of them. Part human drama, part exploration of the devastating emotional effects of depression and part fairy tale, it's one of the most unique experiences I've ever had on screen.
In the early 1920's, young Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) is in the hospital for having fallen out of an orange tree. Stuck with her arm in a cast, ever toting around her little box of treasures, she wanders into the men's ward one afternoon and meets Roy (Lee Pace). A stuntman recently injured on the job and likely paralyzed from the waist down, Roy seeks to alleviate her boredom through an epic story. But as events unfold in the lives of his merry band of renegade pirates out to kill the diabolical mayor of a fantasy town, Roy's true motivations come to light. This isn't a story for his own amusement, or even for Alexandria's. He wants something from her, potentially at a terrible price. What he never anticipates is that this little girl will insert herself into his story and change the outcome forever.
Visually, this production is a masterpiece of exquisite costume and set design. Interestingly, the fantastic story is far less compelling beside real-life events, even at times making the band of renegades seem childish in comparison to the strife and need for one another that this man and this child have for one another inside the hospital. Gradually, we piece together their lives... his of lost love for a woman unworthy of him, and hers of quiet tragedies. The audience finds it very easy to become emotionally involved... we soon step into the shoes of Alexandria, knowing what she doesn't but sharing her emotions and increasing fear that Roy will succeed in his intention to commit suicide. And yet, in spite of the very real heaviness that permeates the script, there are also moments of absurdity and levity, some of them unintentional and others simply beautiful.
At times the gruesomeness of the fantasy and the depressive tone made the story feel exploitative, but we're asked to remember that this is through a child's eyes. Yes, some of the heroes may die before the end of the story, often in terrible ways, but there is always hope for the future, and a happy ending. The cast could not be more perfect, including Justine Waddell as a nurse and as the princess in the story. Truly, though, the film belongs to Catinca Untaru, who is utterly delightful in every single frame. She is the child everyone wishes was theirs, a beautiful ray of absolute trust, innocence, and joy in the midst of the grim circumstances of the ward.
I can't promise everyone who sees this will like or even understand it. But if you've ever struggled with depression, it's a beautiful illustration of just why we should never give up, and for what purpose we're meant to live.
A child overhears moaning sounds (could be sexual).
Two uses of GD, a few profanities.
Blood. Many are shot with bullets or arrows and/or stabbed and killed. Another is nearly drowned. Others are beaten. A monkey is shot and killed.
Paganism heals a man from near-death. Themes of suicide and depression.