The Fall is one of the most visually striking movies you’re likely to see, but the fantasy element is firmly tied to the emotional resonance of the realistic scenes set in a hospital. Some reviewers have complained that the fantasy element is inconsistent, but it is in fact, for the most part, brilliantly inconsistent.
A man who has lost the use of his legs tells stories to a child to manipulate her into getting him morphine. He has no interest in internal consistency–and in fact as his aims change and the child’s interests shift, the story shifts, as it should. If the child eventually inhabits the fantasy story, it is because she has taken some ownership of that story. The best description I can give for this movie is that it’s Pan’s Labyrinth meets Baron Munchausen. It has neither the escapist quality of the latter nor the political element of the former. It also features a bit of a self-absorbed bastard as the lead, but he has good reasons for his attitude. My only warning would be if you think melodrama should never be a part of a movie, stay away. And if you think fantasy images can’t convey emotional resonance, stay away as well. The child actor, btw–she is amazing.
One moment of restraint that typifies how much I enjoyed this movie. At one point birds issue forth from a man’s mouth. In a Hollywood film they would be the iridescent plumage of excess. In this film, they’re mottled and drab, the emphasis entirely on the miracle of their emergence.