Title: The Fairy
Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten
Director: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Screenwriter: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Cast: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy, Philippe Martz, Vladimir Zorano, Destiné M’Bikula Mayemba, Wilson Goma
Cast: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Philippe Martz, Bruno Romy
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 2/7/12
Opens: February 24, 2012
No cinephile could possibly watch this movie without thinking of Jacques Tati (1908-82), a French director, who may well have been the inspiration for the Belgo-Canadian-French directors of “The Fairy.” Tati’s theme, like that portrayed by Buster Keaton, is that individual personality is warped by unfeeling organizations–which the principal characters try to overcome. In “The Fairy,” Dom (Dominique Abel) is a romantic who appears bewildered by the world, an impression he gives in the very opening scenes as he rides a bicycle in his town, Le Havre, during a rainstorm and develops a flat tire that forces him to carry the bike to work. As in Tati’s movies, filmmakers Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy have set up absentminded characters who are emotionally suffering, yet their very suffering makes us laugh. (Would you laugh at or with a man who is virtually blind and who keeps bumping into walls? You might, if you’re into this film.)
Abel, Gordon and Romy’s previous work, “Iceberg,” dealt with a couple with clone-like children who went about life like robots while their “Rumba” was about Fiona and Dom, a happy couple with a passion for Latin dancing, their lives turned upside down by a car accident. If “The Fairy” were part of a trilogy (it isn’t), this could be called a prequel: we find out how Dom and Fiona meet.
Dom (Dominique Abel) is a night clerk at a run-down hotel in Le Havre who is regularly interrupted from consuming his bologna and ketchup sandwich on white bread (French food?) by the phone or by buzzers from the entrance. An English tourist (Philippe Martz) asks for a room, using a French guide-book to Monte Python-esque humor, is told that no dogs are allowed (he has a lively West Highland terrier), but finds a way to solve that problem. Dom’s life changes when he meets Fiona (Fiona Gordon), barefoot and possibly an escapee from a mental institution, who claims that she is a witch and offers him three wishes. She is, in fact, what she claims albeit with limited powers: she has given wings to another gentleman, but that guy falls gently to the ground. She has sex protected by a large clamshell and becomes pregnant moments later, her stomach expanding moments later. The couple order beer from a nearly-blind bartender (Bruno Romy) whose eyeglasses reach all the way into the foam. And a group of illegal immigrants ask to be taken to England.
The emphasis is on visual humor rather than dialogue. Elements of magical realism include Dom and Fiona’s shedding of clothes to romp for a long period under water. They have adventures with their new baby, who is set up on top of the trunk of an old Mercedes, following the cherub on a scooter and attempting to gather the tyke up. We wonder how cameraman Jean Christophe Leforestier films that scene, as it includes a death-defying leg stretch by Fiona Gordon, one foot on the scooter, the other on the trunk of the car in front of it.
“The Fairy” will go down easily on those who like Buster Keaton and slapstick in general. It is not my Crème brûlée The whimsy can become tiresome, but I’d be churlish to pan the film because of my strictly personal proclivities.
Unrated. 93 minutes (c) 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C+
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B-