There’s something very satisfying when a director is able to scrape together his resources and produce the weird, out-of-contention film of their dreams. In Tarsem’s case (The Cell, with Jennifer Lopez), that film happens to be The Fall, a labor of love shot over four years in the world’s most exotic locations. Unfortunately, the film’s thread of a plot just can’t translate these beautiful vistas into a good film.
In some other universe, this would have made a great children’s story. Set in the early 1900s, a spirited, young Alexandria marches around a hospital with an elevated cast, a box of memorables hanging from her tiny fingers. When her hand-written note is misdirected to another patient, stuntman Roy (Lee Pace), she seeks him out to retrieve it. They come to know each other and he spins an epic fairy tale for mutual benefit: she sneaks him much-needed pain medication and he continues the story. As he tells it, five vividly colorful characters – including Charles Darwin – are out for blood after the evil Lord Odious has crossed their paths and they vow to bring about his end.
The fairy tale comprises the bulk of the film, but being a series of improvised extensions by Roy’s character, it’s really little more than an excuse to send the cast to the most vivid locations, weaving in the personnel of the hospital as he spins. Make no mistake: this is porn for location scouts. From the Taj Mahal to the most alien of deserts, the film accomplishes a number of visual feats by way of location and choreography without much aid from special effects. At two hours long though, there’s simply not enough going on to elevate this film above a yawn – don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to view, but not much to see.
Available now on Netflix Instant