The Fall (Sony, 2006) D: Tarsem, w/ Catinca Untaru, Lee Pace. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNNN
In Hollywood's silent era, a hospitalized stuntman (Lee Pace) tells a fairy tale to a little girl (Catinca Untaru). But file this near Pan's Labyrinth and Baron Munchausen rather than The Princess Bride. The tale has personal meaning for both characters, the fiction bleeds into reality, and the movie has things to say about imagination and the value of stories.
The story, seen through the eyes of five-year-old Alexandria, is a gaudy affair of cardboard heroes posed against an endless parade of breathtaking locations, including an island shaped like a butterfly and a well that looks like it was designed by M.C. Escher. There's also a swimming elephant, shot from below, that will stick in my mind forever.
Untaru stays in the mind, too. She's awkward, unselfconscious and deeply affecting. It's a testament to Pace's abilities that he doesn't look like a fool beside her.
How Tarsem got this performance from Untaru and spent over four years shooting The Fall makes a remarkable story in itself.
EXTRAS Director commentary; star, writer and producer commentary; two-part making-of doc. Widescreen. English, French subtitles.