Upper echelon commercial & music video director Tarsem, renowned for his striking visual sense, last year completed his second ambitious feature film, The Fall. A self funded project shot in 24 countries, it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and despite its visual splendor, was summarily dismissed by the few prominent critics in attendance.
Tarsem’s first feature was The Cell, starring Jennifer Lopez. While its sumptuous visuals received universal acclaim, the film as a whole met with mixed reviews. The exception was Roger Ebert who catapulted it onto his end of year top ten list. It’s that rare film heavily laden with visual symbolism that deserves to be viewed as one might read a painting, rather than merely following its narrative.
As in The Cell, The Fall also explores shared dreams & imagination. It “starts in Hollywood in the twenties: Roy Walker (Lee Pace), a stunt man, has just hurt himself terribly while trying to mount a horse on a railroad bridge. Convalescing in a beautiful, austere old hospital, he learns that he may lose the use of his legs. A respite from his deep depression comes in the form of a little girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), an immigrant from Eastern Europe who has broken her arm picking apples. In her, Roy sees an escape. They make a deal: he will tell her the most fantastic story imaginable and she will steal morphine from the hospital pharmacy for him, just in case he cannot take it anymore.
So begins a most extraordinary tale featuring five heroes, each from a different corner of the globe, all out to avenge the wrongs wrought by a powerful aristocrat.”
The Fall has since “found admirers” and positive reactions, but nearly ten months later the film has yet to find a distributor, a tumultuous journey outlined in a story published by the LA Times on Tuesday. One issue, “potential studio buyers have all raised the same nagging question – exactly who is the audience for this picture?” My immediate reaction, “who the hell was the audience for Pan’s Labyrinth?”, a sentiment shared by Director David Fincher later in the article.
LA Film Festival Pass holders will have the opportunity to see The Fall this Saturday evening as part of its Secret Screening series. For the rest of us, this is one to keep an eye on.