Stunt actor Roy is in the hospital without love, health nor belief in himself. He tells his story in the form of a fantasy to the little girl Alexandria, but she gets so dragged into his story that he no longer dares to give it a bad ending.
Director Tarsem Singh (better known from his movie “The Cell”, but never mind) has worked for years on this movie, which would become an ode to the beauty of the place of his birth: India. By choosing only the most arresting locations and using a minimum of special effects, Tarsem has made one of the most visually beautiful films of all times.
It soon becomes very clear that The Fall is indeed directed by the director of The Cell: surrealistic locations, bizarre costumes and fantastic landscapes. Many reviewers call this style over substance and mean this in a negative way, but I do not agree with that condemnation. Underneath the spectacle there is a personal drama hidden, and it isn’t explicit but it just raises the film to a higher level.
This movie has two storylines: (1) the story of a stunt double, Roy, who ends up in the hospital after a failed attempt to impress his ex girlfriend. He meets the little girl Alexandria and uses her to steal morphine by telling her stories. (2) The story that Roy tells Alexandria. We see everything through her imagination and it is set in India. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice in the story that Alexandria misinterprets what Roy tells her.
Part of the fun of the movie is that you are there while the story is made up on the spot. It is the joy of thinking about stories. As the film progresses, Alexandria adds ideas of her own and it becomes a project of both of them. The playful way that the story shapes itself is a pleasure to behold. The true heart of the movie is not the amazing visuals, but the interaction between Roy and Alexandria, and with it the interaction between the story they make up and the real world. It is a source of humor, tension, creativity, friendship and eventually the power to change the real world. In the end, The Fall is very much a film about the fun of storytelling and the power of stories.
It is not all fun and games though. Roy needs to find his own redemption.
Verdict. Whether you like the movie will in part depend on whether you see the storytelling as an analogy for the real world. The Fall has quickly become one of my favorites and I think I can watch this movie over and over again. If you like storytelling and visual spectacle, it is not to be missed.