The Fall 

Something like a pain-fueled, R-rated Princess Bride, The Fall straddles the intertwined worlds of storytelling and story. One half is a child's-eye-view tour of the convalescent wing of a Los Angeles hospital, set during the infancy of the film industry. Heartbroken, suicidal stuntman Roy (Lee Pace) finds himself fabricating a tale about a band of brethren brigands to entertain a recuperating 9-year-old girl (Catinca Untaru, almost too adorable). The other half of the film involves the girl's visualization of this improvised bedtime story, with the multinational, one-dimensional bandits sallying forth in billowing slo-mo on an epic journey to topple a tyrannical governor. As Roy's depression deepens, the story darkens. Director Tarsem, a commercial-shoot hired gun whose only previous feature was 2000's The Cell, pulls together a supersaturated, border-blurring National Geographic travelogue of steppes, deserts and Ottoman extravagance. If the human details are often problematic, the IMAX-grade bombast still makes for a singular spectacle.

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