It's set in a hospital in Los Angeles of the 1920's, where a young girl with a broken arm meets a Hollywood stuntman who's been injured on the job. They become friends as he tells her a story. The movie juxtaposes life in the hospital with a fantastic tale of adventure, until slowly the two stories merge. The young girl populates the story with various people from her life and whom she has met and seen at the hospital. I'm going to avoid spoilers in this review, because this movie is too good to be ruined by a casually tossed-out spoiler.
I rented this movie for my sister, as she's a big Lee Pace fan, and I came away loving it as much as she did. We watched it twice in one day. Then showed it to her husband. Then showed it to my niece. I've watched most of it again here with the subtitles turned on. Then we bought our own copy of the DVD. LOL! It's one of those movies that just needs to be seen again, to help put all the pieces together, because there's far too much to catch on the first viewing. A lot of important dialogue is spoken in the background, or said at the same time something else is going on, so on first viewing, we missed a lot.
Catinca Untaru is adorable and amazing as young Alexandria. She instantly became my favorite child character in any movie. I love her. This movie works so well because of her. Because of her relationship with Roy (Lee Pace's character). They are wonderful together.
It's her imagination we see at work in this movie, bringing his story to life, sometimes in subtle but cool ways. Such as when Roy tells her one of the story's characters is an Indian. We've seen him working in a Western in the beginning of this movie, so when he says Indian, you know he's thinking Native American. He mentions the words squaw and wigwam. Alexandria doesn't know any Native Americans, but she works with a man from India in the orange groves, so he's the one she envisions in the story anytime the Indian is mentioned.
This movie was filmed on location all around the world, and it makes for some absolutely exquisite locales. It's colorful and striking, with amazing architecture and wide open landscapes. I ooohed and ahhhed all the way through it. One of my favorite shots is in the very beginning of the movie, in black and white, of a rope being thrown off a bridge. You can see the shadow of the rope coil on the water below, and then the rope snakes into the camera's view, while you're still watching the shadow below. It unwinds as it falls, the shadow matching it, and it is lit and filmed so perfectly that that shot just boggles my mind every time.
(and this isn't even a fraction of the amazing real places shown in this movie)
This movie is rated R, and for the longest time my sister and I were wondering why that was, as almost nothing in the first half was R. But the movie does turn darker, more violent, and more emotional in the last half, and it does eventually earn its R rating. Even still, it has a lot of humor in it and some of the funniest moments were in the middle of what seemed the darkest moments. Ultimately, it was a satisfying, beautifully told story that just sucked us in and will definitely be one we re-watch on a regular basis.