Unpopped Kernels: The Fall (2006)

“Labour of love.” It is a term that is bounded around in the film industry a lot. After all, shouldn’t all pictures be created from passion and determination? (Pause for laughter). No, sometimes, real labour of love movies often fall away from the mainstream eye. The Fall is one of the most exquisite films to ever grace the big screen. Sadly, The Fall has suffered from a poor release; over five years ago, it was impossible to find the film on DVD, let alone in screenings.  Luckily for us, The Fall is making rounds on Home Entertainment and you must see it. I urge you to be swept up by Tarsem Singh’s story.

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Of course, the story here is based on 1981 Belgium film Yo Ho Ho but it’s entire spirit just effervesces with Singh. Starring Lee Pace, The Fall is centred on a Los Angeles Hospital, boiling in the 1920’s sun. Alexandria is a mischievous young girl with a broken arm who delights many (including the audience) as she totters around the institution. One day, she stumbles into the ward of Roy (Pace;) a stuntman whose deft defying act has landed him paralysed from the waist down. Coercing her in, Roy delights Alexandria with a tale of bandits, lost love and exotic places. The pair form an unlikely friendship as together, they build the story with the events around them, dangerously blurring the lines of reality and fantasy.

Singh’s work here is breath-taking. The aesthetic shell of the fall is as magnificent as an Americana Exotica. (Would you believe that this was a guerrilla “use Pepsi’s cash to secretly make a movie” film?) There is not one iota of the visual canvass that isn’t steeped in illusion imagery that is vibrant on a palette of intense exotica. Coloured by the haze of a bustling sun, the fantastical elements of this film burn delightfully in Singh’s vision. Alongside a hard working team, he has developed a tall tale of elegance with striking characters and visuals set in a backdrop of hazy dream like landscapes made possible by the stirring countries such as India (where The Fall was filmed) and their natural beauty. Juxtaposing the claustrophobia and familiarity of the hospital with the pairs need for adventure (both damning and jovial,) Roy and Alexandria’s flight of fancy really captures your imagination.

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While the allure of the film is its visual shell, The Fall plunges from mere art-house cinema and into the depths of humanity. The heart of this fantasy is the relationship of the suicidal and heartbroken Roy and the cheeky naive Alexandria. Though as unlikely as it may seem, the chemistry between these new friends is effortlessly palpable. The strength of Pace’s damaged but charming Roy played alongside with young Catinca Untaru exudes off the screen and into your soul. If their friendship was off by one iota, then the film would succumb to style over substance. Yet Singh harnesses the delicate unfolding relationship as well as levelling the darker elements of Roy and his somewhat manipulation over the little girl. What you’ll delight in is how intricate the pairs kinship is which was largely helped by Singh’s merely guiding Catinca largely unscripted whilst work shopping scenes with her. To allow the realistic and kinetic companions to really emanate their connection, Pace was confined to the chair or bed allowing Catinca to really believe he was paraplegic. It works on great, brilliant levels.

After first viewing, you’ll want more. Or at least, the saturation of the colours around you will heighten the world you live in. You must lose yourself in this film and let Singh’s work wrap you up in this fantasy drama that feels much more akin to Beasts of the Southern Wild (with Catinca performing just as noteworthy as Wallis,) it is a spectacle of the highest order, brimming with this wonder that will captivate you. The work here is just astonishing and the real passion of Singh’s labour of love is truly paramount.

The Fall is available on Amazon Prime! 

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