I am of the opinion that nearly everyone needs a little more Lee Pace in their lives. I know I do. How is this guy not hugely famous? Where’s his superhero vehicle? Maybe he’ll finally have a true breakout when he hits theaters in The Hobbit movies. He’s also in (sigh) the final installment of the Twilight franchise? I don’t know much about that. Anyway. If you are looking for a little Lee Pace in your life, and aren’t particularly interested in him playing a vampire, you could do worse than to check out 2006’s The Fall. You could do better (see: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), but hey, maybe you’ve already seen that one.
Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) is a little girl with a broken arm. She spends her days puttering around the hospital, befriending everyone from the man who drives the ice truck to her favorite nurse, Nurse Evelyn. One day, she chances to meet a fellow patient named Roy (Lee Pace). He is, apparently, paralyzed from the waist down, having suffered an injury whilst performing stunts for motion pictures. Roy seems lonely, and he draws Alexandria in with an epic story of a band of heroes who seek revenge against an evil governor who has made their lives miserable. Eventually the lines between reality and fiction blur, and we realize that Roy has a shattering ulterior motive.
In some ways, The Fall sounds better on “paper” than it appears on film. Reality and the story that Roy tells Alexandria are woven together convincingly, but some of the details get muddled in the back-and-forth motion. Additionally, one must be paying fairly close attention to really pick up on the realities of Roy’s situation; although things do eventually become clear, there are still aspects of the narrative that could have been described more simply, or perhaps even left out without any real loss. The acting is also somewhat inconsistent. Pace and Untaru have a good rapport, and are both very convincing in the “real-life” portion of things, but when Pace’s character steps into the story world, he’s a little awkward, which I suppose could be the point. All of the other characters are fairly minor, and don’t have much time to shine one way or the other.
The main reason to see this movie (unless you really do need more Lee Pace in your life) is for the visuals. The Fall is stunningly gorgeous; sometimes distractingly so. It’s directed by Tarsem Singh, who has become known for films that are more about looks than plot or acting. Within the story world, his usual of vast landscapes, architectural oddity, and super-saturated colors are truly breathtaking. The real world has not been dulled down to heighten the contrast, either, which I appreciate. No detail is too small to be over-looked; keep your eyes peeled for aspects of the real world that get used in the story world-it’s an interesting and entertaining endeavor.
My theory about why Lee Pace is not more famous than he is has to do with this movie. Had it been more successful and accessible, I think he would be a bigger name now. But, the film is more of an oddity than anything else, and so it is not something that a lot of people are likely to see. It has a great deal of merit, but it’s hard to really recommend it overall. It’s visually interesting, has some very dramatic moments, and was mainly enjoyable to watch, but it lacks something. I’m not sure what exactly, but it misses the mark in terms of being a truly compelling film.