Lee Pace has been at the top of my list for many years, but I always felt like I didn’t quite qualify as a fan of his until I saw this movie. (Nevermind his turns in the Twilight franchise, or whatever he was in GotG, where his face isn’t really visible. Doesn’t count. Need Pace face.) So I hunted down a copy at the library, and I let the quasi-Fantasia of it all wash over me.
The Fall is one of those flicks that qualifies as a “vision,” I believe. The director, Tarsem — who was tangentially involved in Benjamin Button, it seems — had a very clear image of what he wanted this thing to look like. Using the “presented by” powers of David Fincher (!) and Spike Jonze (!!), whatever that means, he was able to execute it. According to the internet’s most reliable source, the movie is based on Yo Ho Ho, a Bulgarian film, but I can’t help but think that the story told in this (and probably that) held some deep, profound, nostalgic meaning for Tarsem.
I’m not entirely sure how they all pulled this thing off. It’s like Drunk History meets Princess Bride meets Survivor. There’s a present-day person narrating a story that other people act and mouth out, there’s an older mentor telling a young person that story, and there’s a lot of haphazard world travel — in the style of Bollywood, sci-fi, and everything else Tarsem could think of, I might add. The “present day” isn’t well established, but upon consulting that aforementioned most reliable source, I found out it was the 1920’s. And honestly, that was the least convincing aspect of the completely fantastical world that the characters navigate, as the set props appear to have been purchased from a picked-over HomeGoods. But it’s forgivable, because it’s all so genuine and heartwarming, and that doesn’t happen often these days. Roy (Pace), a suicidal and gravely-injured soldier, begrudgingly befriends Alexandria (Cantica Untaru), a poor girl with a broken arm, after she keeps needling him to hang out. They’re both stuck in the infirmary, being infirm, so Roy agrees. And then he both falls head over heels for her and realizes she’ll get him pills. It’s a win-win.
Their friendship is perpetuated by his epic tale, in which she, he, and a bunch of other people cyclically star. Alexandria’s father becomes the Black Bandit, Nurse Evelyn (Justine Waddell) becomes Sister Evelyn, the orange picker (Jeetu Verma) becomes the Indian, the ice delivery man (Marcus Wesley) becomes Otta Benga, a one-legged guy (Robin Smith) becomes Luigi and an orderly (Leo Bill) becomes Charles Darwin. Let’s pause for a moment and admire Darwin’s fabulous coat:
Anyway, these men form a very Village People-esque group of bandits. What they’re banditing is unimportant, and besides, I forget. But Roy’s world and Alexandria’s world become enmeshed into the bandits’ quest, and their enemies — A’s father, R’s roommate and R’s own mind — a force that they both must take down. Alexandria grows up a good deal, because of her friendship with Roy and her understanding of his complex, delicate mental state. But Roy grows up, too, and grows out of his selfishness. He sees the kind of light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t death. It’s colorful, mishmashed, and incredibly sentimental, but in the most beautiful way. It’s a children’s movie for adults, and it’ll make you feel everything a good story is supposed to feel.
I’ll leave you with some Pace face.