Thursday, February 25, 2010

the fall (singh, 2006)

While not exactly good, The Fall nevertheless reminded me that Tarsem Singh was not just a pretty-pictures show-off, but that his visuals seem to suggest a distinctly intelligent voice that you may not necessarily expect. And he has rhythm, which is not an overstocked item in the filmmaking world.

There is the matter of the child actor. Catinca Untaru. She is not good in the classical sense - verisimilitude, flawlessly memorized lines, focus - and the makers take an enormous risk by having her (and her leading man) in tears for something like the last three reels. Nevertheless, the risk pays dividends - she is an asset to the film's emotional arc. The paraplegic's despair is as irresistible to us as it is to young Alexandria - even while the underlying motive-resolution behind his circumstances (he was jilted, he's redeemed, he gets over the jilt) is too pat to spark as much interest as the visual design.

ADDENDUM: A moment's research reveals that Untaru was in competition for an award for youth acting, by an organization that appears to be the Academy Awards of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror. Among Untaru's competitors were Brandon Walters in Baz Luhrmann's (remarkably sober and gorgeous) Australia, Lina Leandersson in the Swedish vampire film, Let The Right One In (a film I was not mad about, but I'm unable to argue that Leandersson did anything less than brave, grown-up work), the title character in Slumdog Millionaire (whatever), and the undeniably talented Freddie Highmore in some Nickelodeon-ish nonsense involving trolls. All the boys and girls did at the very least respectable work, but - mystery of mysteries - they were defeated by Jaden Smith, spawn of Fresh Prince and that girl from Jason's Lyric, who gnawed through an already squandered property, the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In the world of child acting, there are great performances (rare) and decent performances. There are also "bad" ones that work, and bad ones that blow up in everyone's face. Smith in The Day is emblematic of the last group.

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