When I first saw The Fall, I was trying to slink out of the theater afterward without anyone noticing my red eyes and nose. Too bad someone caught me and asked me if I was okay. "Uh, sure," I stammered, and ran for the subway. Today when I revisited the movie on an airplane, I warned my seatmate that I would be sniffly and not to worry. About midway through, he took pity on me and handed me some napkins.
The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh (he prefers to go simply by his first name), takes place in a hospitals in California in the '20s. Lee Pace plays Roy, a stuntman who had an accident that left his paralyzed from the waist down; his girlfriend left him for the smarmy star so he's broken-hearted as well. His costar is Catinca Untaru, who plays a mischievous, smart, adorable little girl named Alexandria, who has chubby cheeks and a broken arm from working in the orange groves. Untaru isn't an actor, and she's so young she's missing her two front teeth for most of the movie. She's also Romanian, and combined with how young she is, the way she talks is a pastiche of baby talk and broken English.
Roy begins to tell her a story about bandits who have been done wrong by the horrible Governor Odious and seek revenge against him at any cost. The magical scenes she imagines were filmed in real places around the world, and she pictures each bandit as people she knows or has seen in real life. The story starts out like an exciting tale but soon we all realize it reflects Roy's real-life story and deep depression.
I'm not going to talk about the specific scenes that made me cry because they are crucial to the plot. But what also made me cry was knowing that in real life, wee Catinca had no idea that Pace wasn't actually paralyzed, and was in fact so young she had trouble discerning what was real and what wasn't in the movie. And there are definitely scary, sad things that happen in the movie that would make a regular grown-up (ahem) cry even knowing they were fiction.
While I do have some reservations about Tarsem's technique -- almost all of the cast and crew also believed that Pace was paralyzed in real life -- I can't say the results aren't incredibly affecting. I don't think that The Fall would have been as emotionally moving without Untaru. The real-life locations and costumes are dazzling, and the cast is good, but Catinca Untaru is simply amazing and easily breaks your heart when tears streak down her face.
Also, Lee Pace looks great in eyeliner. Just sayin'.
For more exclusive photos of The Fall, check out the full gallery here.