Tarsem Singh’s The Fall suffers from the same problem as his previous effort, The Cell — grandiose images alone do not make for a compelling or coherent narrative.
Probably best known as the director of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” video, Singh shot this softheaded fairy tale over four years in 18 different countries, and paid for it with his own money.
The story, which is set in a gauzily rendered 1920s Los Angeles, opens in an elaborate hospital where an injured movie stuntman (Lee Pace) befriends a 5-year-old Romanian girl (Catinca Untaru) recovering from a broken arm. He begins to tell her a long, fantastical adventure tale to help the pass the days — a narrative device Singh uses as an opportunity to literally envision the stuntman’s often ludicrous fantasies of garishly costumed warriors running around amid extravagant, color-saturated set pieces.
One can imagine Singh saying to himself, “Hey, wouldn’t a swimming elephant look cool in this shot?” and then actually making it happen no matter its illogical impact on the story he’s trying to tell.
Vapid and indulgent, The Fall is as one-dimensional as a picture postcard.