Monday, 8 June 2009


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” - Theodore Geisel

Today’s review for Movie Monday concerns a film that was recommended to me by my friend Svetlana. As she spoke very highly of it, I tried to obtain it at my local video store, but I had no luck. I tried Amazon Australia, but it was not available. I then ordered it through Amazon USA, but I got a very nice message back from them, saying that although it was available, they were very sorry, but this video could not be shipped to Australia. Well that got me all the more intrigued and fortunately at that time, one of my friends was leaving for a conference in the USA and I asked him whether he could bring the DVD back for me.

He was most accommodating and promised he would. It was a little bit problematic for him also as when he looked in a couple of video stores, it was either not in stock or not kept in stock. Finally, his wife managed to find it in a suburban shopping centre in Las Vegas! They came back last week and we were able to watch this movie last weekend. I must say that I was thankful that both my friends and I persisted, as the movie was worth the effort!

It is Tarsem Singh’s 2006 film, “The Fall”. This is a film that works on multiple levels, but first and foremost it is visually beautiful, with an engaging and complex (but easily comprehensible) allegorical story that is woven artfully. The cinematography is stunning, the images absolutely gorgeous and the acting fantastic. The music, dialogue, entrancing interlaced stories and the direction are all faultless. It was a film that we enjoyed seeing and will see again in the future.

The story is set in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Young Alexandria is a little Romanian girl whose immigrant parents have settled in California. Her father has been killed in tragic circumstances and her mother is trying to make ends meet. The little girl is in hospital as she has broken her arm falling off an orange tree while picking fruit. In hospital she meets Roy, an actor/stuntman who has tried to kill himself because he was rejected by the love of his life. An unlikely friendship develops between Roy and Alexandria and the two of them explore each other’s lives (without much understanding each other’s world, at least initially) through the medium of fantastical stories that Roy relates to Alexandria.

Fantasy and reality are separate yet intertwined in this film and the connection between life at the hospital (and outside it) and the fantasy world that Roy imagines and relates to Alexandria is the way that leads both little girl and young man out of the maze that they have found themselves lost in. As the stories unfold we learn more about Roy and Alexandria and as each discovers more about each other (as well as themselves), the denouement is perfectly understandable and expected.

It was a rather roundabout way for me to see this film, but in the end, where there is a will there is a way. Of the films I have watched recently, it reminded me most of Dave McKean’s 2005 film “Mirrormask”. However, Tarsem’s film was rather more aligned to the real world and thus more appealing, I think even for the viewers who do not like the fantasy genre, as such. If you can get hold of this movie watch it and be pleasantly surprised as I was. Thank you again, Svetlana, for the recommendation.

1 comment:

  1. Aha! Wasn't it a feast of colors, images, emotions?
    We first saw it at the SIFF - we have a film festival in Seattle - and we - including my 25 year old-son (he, probably, even more so) - were mesmerized! I did purchase the video, and we treat ourselves to it from time to time... on par with Amelie and BBC' Pride and Prejudice ...
    I agree that the film is much deeper than the seemingly straightforward plot might suggest...
    I watch it as a complex painting, where one discovers
    new images and innuendos every time one goes back...