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April 26, 2012

The Fall - Review

Anyone who isn't a hipster can tell tell you that one of the most annoying personality traits someone can have is pretentiousness. That general attitude that you are better than everyone and everything else, and that you deserve some kind of attention simply because you exist. This is the exact attribute of The Fall that offended and annoyed me to such a strong degree, which is to say: it annoyed the living piss out of me.

The Fall is set in an early 1900s hospital, in which 5-year-old Alexandria is recovering from a broken arm. During her stay, she befriends Roy, a stunt-double who's been left paralyzed after an accident on set. Roy seems nice, telling young, naive Alexandria wonderful stories of bandits and princesses. But little does she know that something dark lurks behind Roy's stories.

Really, nobody thought to put an escalator in here.

It is these stories that give the film its life. I will give credit where credit is due; Tarsem Singh has a real knack for visuals. The world created by the stories are marvelously rendered and take place in breathtaking, fantastical landscapes. This gives the film a unique look and style unlike anything you've probably seen before.

However, there's a point in the film in which I suddenly felt a familiar feeling. In fact, it was the very same feeling that I had while watching Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch. It was the realization that all these beautiful scenes, gorgeous visuals, and breathtaking style served absolutely zero purpose other than to look pretty. It's uncanny. Both films tell fantasy stories that mirror reality, and in both, the best visuals are within these stories. But they only comprised about half an hour of Sucker Punch's running time; Roy's stories take up a good half of this film.

"Uh, this probably isn't a big deal, but...why exactly are those priests spinning?" -
"STFU, it looks cool and artsy and DEEP." - Tarsem
I'm being serious when I say that they could have left the stories out of the film entirely, and the only thing it would have done was take away an excuse for elaborate visuals. The intention is that they would reveal Roy's inner torment and suicidal thoughts (over the loss of his girlfriend, I kid you not), but it's pulled off with all the subtlety of a Michael Bay movie. What's more, why go to such lengths to tell such a simple, albeit overdone and utterly stupid, story?

Furthermore, the film can't seem to commit to a single tone. At times, the film is obnoxiously and overtly goofy, and other times dark, serious, and artsy. The changes are jarring, and throws the viewer off balance. I didn't know how I was supposed to take in the events that were unfolding on screen? I'd also like to know why Roy would unload all this depressed, dark, suicidal turmoil onto a 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL who clearly neither fully comprehends it nor is able to handle it.

Congratulations, kid. You've unwittingly committed euthanasia.

What we have on our hands is a self-indulgent, self-important "labor of love." But what's to expect from a director that simply goes by "Tarsem," as if he's great enough for you to instantly recognize who he is and all his work. "Tarsem" is the director Tarsem Singh, known more recently for the films Immortals and Mirror, Mirror (his only credit prior to The Fall was The Cell).

This fact alone merits enough disdain, but what really frustrates me is a single set of words on both the poster and at the very beginning of the film: "David Fincher and Spike Jonze Present." There's a couple names I should know and should trust. There's a couple names that are worthy of recognition. Those words gave me some comfort, some pretense that what I was about to see would actually be worth my time. And then they were used to sell some mishmashed, narratively-flimsy film that, *erherm* falls flat on it's face under the weight of its own visual splendor and self-importance.


1 comment:

  1. I am yet to see this....but I hate it too when a film is only beautified but lacks any soul.

    I will watch this and come back to you.

    Great review...perhaps the only extremely negative review I have read of this! :0