The Fall (2006/2008) Tarsem
Production Budget: around $30 million
Worldwide Gross: $3 million
This movie was buried before it was even released. A director that only goes by a one name moniker spends nearly 30 million of his own money and films in 28 countries for his own vanity project. Reviewers and the studio saw it as pretentious overindulgence. The studio shelved it for two years and limped it out in theaters. When it was released, reviewers took its production and shelving to rip it apart before even watching it. This is one of the reasons I made my Box office bomb thread. This is actually a great movie that will bomb huge and not because of its quality.
The movie takes place in Hollywood during the silent era of film. A little girl is recovering from a broken arm in the hospital and meets Roy, a hollywood stunt man who hurt himself on a movie. Roy and the girl become friends and Roy tells her an epic story about love. When Roy’s condition worsens, the story gets darker and Roy tries to get the girl to steal pills for him.
Tarsem was first a music video director (most notable video was probably REM Losing My Religion). I knew him from his first movie The Cell; a great looking movie with a lousy plot. And that’s really what I was expecting here.
How to best describe this movie. It’s like a Terry Gilliam movie…only good. Let’s get the obvious praise out of the way. The movie is gorgeous. Tarsem gets shots of the most beautiful places of all the countries he visited. The sets, the costumes, and other visuals are equally great. If more than five people actually saw this at theaters, they would be raving about the cinematography.
The real surprise is the satisfying storyline and acting. When I say Gilliam-like, I mean it is like a fairy tale for adults. Even though Roy is telling this childish story and there a good amount of humor, our characters are going through dark times. The movie doesn’t compromise and give us a fake ending. Our characters have to deal with the hand they’ve been dealt the best they can. I found it more satisfying and uplifting because it didn’t cheap out on the ending.
One scene I loved was when Tarsem shows a montage of silent era stunts that are absolutely crazy. Stunts that had the potential to kill and maim if there was a split second mistake. I just found that a very memorable scene. As Ebert says “Either you are drawn into the world of this movie or you are not. It is preposterous, of course, but I vote with Werner Herzog, who says if we do not find new images, we will perish. ” That explains the one a**hole in my audience who was more than vocal about his dislike of the movie and camped outside the exit to tell people who liked it otherwise. I wanted to bitch him out in front of his friends, but there’s no point. He will always be the Michael Bay wanking, Michael Bolton loving jack off and there is nothing I can do to convince him this was a great movie. There is almost no chance you will see this in theaters so all I can do is recommend you rent this when it comes out on DVD.
I wrote that review when it initially came out. Now there’s been a year and enough time to reflect and give an updated review. If you saw my best of 2008 list you would see The Fall was somewhere near my top 5. I still think its as good as I thought initially. I do think this movie can divide audiences between those that can get into the “movie magic” and fantasy elements and those that will shake their heads and say “WTF!?” Like Terry Gilliam and I shudder to say Tim Burton, you have just roll with the fantastical elements. Inside The Fall is a beautiful adult fairy tale with strong themes and hard lessons. No matter what though, you have to agree The Fall is one of the most beautiful movies I have seen in YEARS. This was a ballsy move by Tarsem fronting all his own money to make this movie and goes all out in achieving his dream. If anything I recommend this movie for the gorgeous imagery but I also think you will love the story too. Its on DVD so there is no excuse. Give it a rental, and give it one shot. Like I said before, this is one of the movies I made this thread for.