Every so often you catch a film on DVD that somehow you missed when it was in theaters (sometimes years earlier). This was the case for me when I came across the wonderful – dare I say, enchanting – film The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh (with Spike Jonez and David Fincher bringing it to market), and starring absolutely no one you’ve ever heard of. The plot is simple enough: In a turn-of-the-century hospital, a crippled, possibly paralyzed, and definitely suicidal man begins telling a fantastic story to a little girl so that he can coax her to bring him an overdose of morphine.
Sound cheerful, right? But it is, for the story the man tells is shown to us in the imagination of the little girl, and a vibrant and wonderful imagination it is, filled with color and spectacle. What adds to the magic is the fact that the girl, who’s English is not the best, sometimes misunderstands the meaning of story points, which results in an amusing series of juxtapositions. For instance, one of the characters in said story is an Indian, who is pictured by the girl as hailing from the subcontinent, but (as we find out later when the man refers to the Indian’s “squaw”, is really supposed to be a native American).
Touches like this, and ultimately the redemptive nature of the story itself, made The Fall a wonderful viewing experience for me. I admit that the “story within a story” format is one of my favorites, including films like “The French Lieutanent’s Wife” and “The Usual Suspects.” The Fall is an admirable addition to this sub-genre, and well worth watching.