At a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920s, Alexandria is a child recovering from a broken arm. She befriends Roy Walker, a movie stunt man with legs paralyzed after a fall. At her request, Roy tells her an elaborate story about six men of widely varied backgrounds who are on a quest to kill a corrupt provincial governor. Between chapters of the story, Roy inveigles Alexandria to scout the hospital’s pharmacy for morphine. As Roy’s fantastic tale nears its end, Death seems close at hand.
What I thought of it:
This is one of those odd movies where I’m quite certain I liked it, but I’m completely unsure why. To be perfectly frank, it’s completely bizarre; like a cross between The Arabian Nights and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Visually it is absolutely stunning, with vibrant colours and rich textures everywhere you turn. It’s also incredibly clever at blurring the lines between reality and fantasy – pointing firmly towards the booming movie industry of the 20s which offered escapism to the masses (as it does to this day) – populating the fairytale with people in and around the hospital, sometimes heavily in disguise. Underneath it all is the burgeoning friendship between an injured girl and a broken man which poignantly unfolds on both sides of reality.
I really did like it. It was a bit long at almost two hours, and it almost assaults the senses whilst making your emotions run the gauntlet – it’s almost a sensory overload, but it held its own to the end.
For me, though, it was then six-year-old Catinca Untaru, playing Alexandria, who really made the film. She was nothing short of wonderful and really tugged the heart strings – even the most callous child-hater would be hard pushed not to be moved by her performance. Lee Pace could almost have been interchangeable with John Cusack, both for looks and presentation, which is no bad thing in my book, and he was a strong foil for Catinca.
Overall, it’s a rather whimsical look at how an unexpected friendship can change your whole outlook on life, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful to look at, even if the story itself doesn’t appeal.
My hubby’s review HERE.