Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review: The Fall (****)

(Note: Sorry for the lack of photos. Couldn't really find any. Plus, don't wanna spoil the beauty of the film.)

Directed by Tarsem
Cast: Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell, Lee Pace, Kim Uylenbroek, Aiden Lithgow, Sean Gilder, Ronald France, Andrew Roussouw, Michael Huff, Grant Swanby, Emil Hostina, Robin Smith, Jeetu Verma, Leo Bill, Marcus Wesley.
2008--117 minutes
Rated R (violent images)
Reviewed by The Teen Critic on December 18, 2008.

I have a rhetorical question for you: How the heck do you even write a review for "The Fall," let alone a plot description? It's the closest thing to indescribable as a movie could get. As Roger Ebert would say, that's not a criticism, that's an observation. I would like to say that "The Fall" is a bizarre masterpiece and it's all that can be said. Well, dang it, I'm wrong. There are a lot of things that can be said about Tarsem's film, much like his previous one, "The Cell."

That film was perhaps a bit better to explain: A woman goes into the mind of a serial killer, only to be caught up and trapped inside it. It was 2000's best film by a mile, not only visually striking, but also frightening, trippy, and quite touching. "The Fall" is equally trippy and perhaps even more touching. The plot description is murky: In order to get more morphine, a paralyzed and suicidal man tells stories to a crippled girl about...what? And to what effect? Many films must have a logical point; people demand it. What if the film has no logical point? They won't hear of it. Must be the "artsy-fartsy" thing.

I believe that "The Fall" has no logical point (or much of a narrative, either), and instead contains a creative engine only. That's it. Nothing else. The film works as a celebration of style over substance, yes, but what about when there's very little substance to begin with? "The Fall" has less a story than a plot, but that works in its favor, as the lack of a strong narrative gives way to the best cinematography and scenery and set direction and costume design ever conducted on film.

That's pretty much the point that Tarsem is making: the visualization of someone's uninhibited imagination. It's like an abstract painting. Some understand it, some don't. I guess it really is all relative. All I know is this: I will never forget "The Fall." Forget the 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. Forget its near incomprehensibility. This is a goundbreaking visual achievement that needs no review to establish that. It has established itself, I believe.

Whenever someone says that a film is pretentious because it makes its own points and makes sense within its own universe, I have to think to myself, "That happened to '2001: A Space Odyssey.' And that's a great film." So, is "The Fall" confusing? Yes. Maddening? Very. Strange? Doesn't even scratch the surface. Masterpiece? Maybe, though that's hard to say. Striking? Extremely. Plot-driven? No. It doesn't have to be. It's driven by its own means, you see. It's also one of the very best films I've seen this year, and possibly one of the most strikingly original ever made. Which tells you something right there.

1 comment: