After falling off a horse in a film stunt gone wrong, Roy Walker sits in a hospital, unable to walk and hoping to die. And if that isn't enough, Roy's heart is broken after his beautiful girlfriend leaves him for the film's leading man. Ready to call it quits, Roy befriends an innocent and charming five-year-old, Alexandria, in hopes of persuading her to steal a fatal dose of morphine pills for him to use to end his life. Wanting to impress and manipulate his new friends, Roy tell Alexandria an epic story about love, war and revenge – one that has Alexandria on the edge of the bed sheets in high anticipation and willing to do Roy's every bidding.
What truly sold this film for me was its amazing use of cinematography and simplistic originality. While taking an innocent girl who has just survived a devastating loss and having her find a 'true' friend in Roy is heartwarming for the viewers; however, seeing her used without the slightest sign of emotion or sympathy is about as gut wrenching as anyone could imagine. And though the actions are almost inhumane, it is the emotional roller coaster that the audience is sent on and the blinded deception that truly gives the film both its spark and its sense of authenticity. No longer is the story a happy-go-lucky tale where everyone gets what they want; instead the story is true to the heart, stirring every emotion and making the audience members think and react to what they are seeing on screen.
In addition I have to give credit to Lee Pace for his pinpoint depiction of Roy. Using minimalism and a strong connection with his co-stars, Pace was able to bring Roy and his story to the forefront. And what amazed me most was his ability to do this while never leaving his bed. His motions were so smooth and his dialogue so crisp, making every movement necessary and every word meaningful, all coming together to create a solid central character.
Then we have Catinca Untaru, a young actress who utilized her sense of innocence, uncertainty and a gentle approach to create a young and charming Alexandria. Though being young, and young actors tend to play themselves in roles, I feel that Untaru transformed herself into Alexandria, making her likable and approachable by all. Her slow delivery of dialogue mixed with her misunderstanding of directions help to drive the film and give it a young, fresh look.
But most of all I have to comment on the film's direction, done beautifully by Tarsem. Creating a film that is both enchanting and unique is no easy task; however, Singh did it twice as he created a film within a film. Through his clever use of color, angles and pure direction Tarsem is able to bring the best out of his actors and create a full circle of talent that transforms into classic wonders on screen.
However, the film wasn't flawless.
Taking on a running time of just under two hours, I personally felt that the story could and should have moved a bit quicker. Over the last twenty minutes, the story became a repeating cycle of clichés that were easily picked up by the audience. Throw that together with an overly simple ending and the film that quickly loses the authenticity and heart that it had worked so hard to achieve.
Luckily, within a few minutes of the film's closing credits, Tarsem and his team of actors make a full 180 degrees turn, bringing the film back to where it started and creating an ending as it should have been: with a lot of heart, raw emotion and true authenticity.