“The Fall” is a remarkable film.
If you have read anything about this movie, you are already aware that its exotic locations, artfully designed camera angles, and colorful art direction make it a unique experience. What I’d like to mention, then, is something equally, if not more, remarkable: the performance of its lead actress, the young Romanian actress Catinca Untaru.
[…]the fall tarsemUntaru plays Alexandria, a precocious little immigrant girl recovering from a broken arm in an early 1920s Los Angeles hospital. There she meets Roy (Lee Pace), an injured movie stuntman who can’t feel his legs and is also despondent over the loss of his girlfriend. Looking for something a little more devious than just her company, he begins to enchant Alexandria with a tale of five adventurers on a trip to exact revenge on an evil governor named Odious.
[…]Pace and Untaru have an unusual chemistry that is so interesting and real, it absolutely drives the fantasy sequences. Her reactions are so unaffected it’s as if she’s not even working off of a script. Sometimes she stumbles over her words, searching for the right way to communicate with Roy, just as a little girl who is new to the country would. Background on Alexandria is sketchy, but we do know hat her house was burned down when she was younger and her father now occupies an iconic place in her dreams. The moments between her and Roy are more than just sweet; they take on an almost tragic tone from the beginning because we suspect Roy’s ulterior motives while Alexandria does not.
[….]As fantastic as the story sequences in “The Fall” are, we are grounded by the fact that characters we believe in have created them, and they have happened right there in front of our eyes
Although The Fall premiered at the Toronto Film Festival two years ago, it failed to get a distributor. It has finally got a release in the UK, and one can only hope that the film will take off this year. Tarsem’s second feature has been several years in the making, filmed in over 20 countries and funded by the director himself. As visually stunning as anything by Sofia Coppola, the film reworks the It’s a Wonderful Life story with Roy as the broken man who needs to be saved and Alexandria as the guardian angel in training. Catinca Untaru is an exceptional discovery – intelligent, endearing and entirely believable, and Alexandria’s devotion to Roy is one of the sweetest and cruellest friendships you will see on screen.
by Shamini Sriskandarajah, LONDON
Lush visuals and weaving narrative aside, the key aspect in the movie’s magic is the cast’s believability. Specifically, young Romanian actress Catinca Untaru. Her portrayal of an inquisitive and mischievous young girl has to be the most remarkable child acting ever put to film. I usually hesitate to give such an absolute statement, but there really can’t be enough praise for the ten-year old. Rumour has it that she was never given a full script, but rather just a general idea of what the scene was going to be about, and she was left to her own initiative to respond accordingly. Whether or not this is true, the fact remains that she captures an authenticity that most filmmakers can only dream of.
It’s all about imagination
Controversial “The Fall” is a definite ‘must see’
By Dylan Cunningham
It’s 1915, and Roy Walker (Lee Pace, who, between this and his recent wonderful turn in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, deserves to be a huge star) is laid up in a Los Angeles hospital with a broken back from which he is not expected to recover. He’s a Hollywood stuntman — one of the first, which drags in all sorts of unspoken themes revolving around the distinction between fantasy and reality and the deliberate deception of fiction — and he was injured during a stunt gone wrong. Plus, on top of that, his girl ran off with the movie’s leading man. So he’s pretty depressed… downright suicidal. But he can’t move from his bed: his legs are paralyzed. So, on a whim, he enlists another patient, young Alexandria (Catinca Untaru, in an astonishingly natural performance), in a scheme to steal him enough morphine pills so he can kill himself. The child has no idea what’s going on, of course — she just knows that Roy tells the most delightful stories, and that she’d do anything for him so that he’ll keep the tales coming.
Even unto the end, the beautiful weirdness of Alexandria’s imaginary Oz — and how she misinterprets things Roy says that seem perfectly plain to us grownups — keeps smacking up against the harsh reality of Roy’s ulterior motives so that we almost don’t know what we’re “supposed” to feel. And that’s a good thing: because for all its patent artificiality, there’s something of the found-object about The Fall, as if it had sprung whole cloth from the forehead of some minor demigod who may be, like Roy is with Alexandria, playing tricks on us, and yet wants to delight us at the same time. And still we don’t care, because the story alone is worth it.
by MaryAnn Johanson
A few weeks back on Ain’t It Cool News, Moriarty wrote a beautiful piece on Catinca Untaru’s devastating work in this film. In no way does anything she’s doing on the screen feel like acting. Her whispered conversations with Pace make us feel like we’re eavesdropping in on highly private moments. I can’t remember the last time a film made me think I was violating someone’s private space while I was just trying to listen to dialogue, but that’s what this resembles. And I’ve barely scratched the surface on some of Tarsem’s other miracles with The Fall, including the delicate costumes, a nurse character (Justine Waddell) who also appears in the fantasy world as a sort of queen and the music from Krishna Levy. It all comes together in a beautiful motif that I will likely never forget and will revisit often. But these are just words, and The Fall is so much more than words.
by Steve Prokopy, Chicago
Catinca Untaru as Alexandria gives one of the most natural performances you could ever hope to see from a child actor. I believed every word that came out of her mouth, even when her accent and poor grammar rendered her unintelligible. Just as with Tarsem, I don’t know whether she has another film in her, but we thank our lucky stars for her presence in this one.
The acting in this film is so naturalistic, it’s astonishing, especially from its 7-year-old actress Catinca Untaru. I’ve never quite seen a child actor as convincing as her, and part of that might have to do with the obvious takes that director Tarsem left in where it left the non-English-speaking child to figure out what co-star Lee Pace was saying. There’s a lot of moments of her processing information that any other actor in the world wish they had. And because the film was shot in chronological order, the relationship between Catinca’s character, Alexandria, and Lee Pace’s character, Roy, actually does unfold in front of your eyes. Which makes the scene where Roy explodes with anger in front of Alexandria all the more scary.
The most notable aspect of the film aside from the bizarrely stunning visuals is the acting by the cutest little girl ever to grace the silver screen Catinca Untaru. She brought the film laughter, and innocence that I don’t recall ever seeing from such a young age. I hated Haley Joel Osment. I hated Jonathan Lipnicki. I love Catinca Untaru.