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The Fall Guy, check out Lee Pace giving a different era of stunt performers their flowers in The Fall


If The Fall had come out this year, you might wonder if the 2006 cult classic and David Leitch’s The Fall Guy were born from the same prompt at a writers’ workshop. Beyond the mirrored titles, the divisive labor of love from Tarsem Singh (known professionally as Tarsem) shares an oddly similar jumping-off point with the new Ryan Gosling flick.

 

Both The Fall and The Fall Guy center on dejected stuntmen contending with the loss of their girlfriend and their sense of identity after suffering a devastating injury on the job. Both end in montages highlighting the under-appreciated labor of stunt performers and use a story-within-the-story as a vehicle for their emotionally-stunted protagonists to fully communicate their feelings. Both represent the fulfilment of a years-long quest for their respective directors: Leitch a former stuntman himself, has been working diligently to get fellow performers more recognition and maybe their own Oscar one day, while Tarsem self-financed his project and shot it piecemeal over four years in more than 24 different countries. Both are steeped in reverence for the craft of filmmaking and pay homage to those that came before.

 

But while The Fall Guy is a poppy, accessible, afternoon snack of a movie, The Fall is anything but. On its surface, this dichotomy is unfortunately literal. The Fall is next to impossible to buy from services like Amazon and Apple TV or to stream anywhere, at least legally. (Singh reached out to Criterion to distribute the film, but they said no.) Your best bet is to get your hands on an old Blu-ray copy, but even those will set you back at least $75 on ebay  Googling won’t really help you either—you’ll have to wade through a lot of results about Gillian Anderson’s 201os series of the same name (no relation) or 2022's tall pole thriller Fall (even less relation).

 

I’m saying all of this up front so you can manage your expectations, because what you’ll find if you are lucky enough to secure a copy (or you’re reading this in the future after Criterion screws its head on straight) is a bold and beautiful mess of a masterpiece, as intimate and personal as it is impossibly grand. Anchored in a 1915 Los Angeles hospital, the story follows paralysed and bedridden stuntman Roy (the ever-delightful Lee Pace), who attracts the adulation of 5-year-old fellow patient Alexandria (first and only-time actress Catinca Untaru).

 

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