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Stars: Lee Pace, Catina Untaru, Justine Waddell, Leo Bill
Director: Tarsem (Tarsem Singh)
An extraordinarily colourful, if resolutely uncommercial film, shot all over the world, and beautiful to look at - but only entertaining in fits and starts.
It's Hollywood in the 1920s and an injured stuntman (Pace), fearful of losing his legs after an accident, is ensconced in a rather bizarre hospital staffed by nuns. A young Romanian girl (bewitching Untaru) is also a patient (she's broken her arm) and the two bond, the stuntman drawing her into a vivid adventure in which she imagines all the characters are people at the hospital (a bit like The Wizard of Oz).
Five of them are marooned on a desert island - a masked bandit (Pace again), an Indian swordsman, an Italian explosives expert, the naturalist Charles Darwin (with a monkey) and a black warrior. They escape on a swimming elephant, and their 'quest' begins.
All the while, the stuntman's story is part of a ruse to persuade the girl to steal him morphine from the hospital stockroom.
The performances - Britain's Waddell, with an American accent, makes little impression as a nursing nun who doubles as the exotic princess of the story - play second-fiddle to the exotic settings and amazingly clear photography. There's action, too, as the storyteller distresses the girl by killing his heroes one by one.
It needs to be more realistic, though. You could say that a girl of seven would swallow it whole, but then girls of seven are not its target audience. But, if you've a taste for the unusual, you could give it a try.
South Africa/India/UK 2006. UK Distributor: Momentum. Duboicolor.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.
Review date: 05 Oct 2008