If you take the leap and see Tarsem Singh's "The Fall," you have a choice. You can marvel at its imaginative craft and visual artistry. Or you can worry why a film this fantastical isn't better grounded in its storytelling.
If you need something to hold onto while watching "The Fall," you have Catinca Untaru, who occupies an adorable space between precocious child actress and innocent life force. Untaru is Romanian, and her thick accent boosts you closer to the exotic whirl of the film.
Here's the set up: A stunt man making silent pictures before World War I is in the hospital. His bottom half is paralyzed after a failed stunt. His top half is paralyzed because the woman he loves has been loving someone else. He enthralls a nine year old girl, weaving a tale enlivened by cues from his movie making world and his hospitalized world. He is manipulating her so she'll fetch him pills to feed his suicide.
The attentive little girl is ripe for interaction. She troupes around the hospital in a cumbersome cast. Her shoulder is broken. Something else has been broken in her life.
The tale the stunt man weaves involves a motley union of five men sworn to avenge the evil Governor Odious. Preposterous adventure happens. You might say anything goes because the writers and director were unable to weave sense into a sprawling fable. Or you might say anything goes because the fable is being spun by a character making up the story as he goes.
Director Singh spent four years, in dozens of countries, scouting astonishing locations - natural and man made. His vision is unfettered. His use of color and light and composition is inspired. His devotion to special effects is astounding (and not embellished by computers). "The Fall" is brilliant filmmaking with much to offer any filmgoer willing to jump into something far from perfect.