Stars: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Directors: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Writers: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Released by Kino Lorber
La Fee (original title) (France/Belgium)
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
What a captivating and enchanting motion picture. Most of the story is told visually in the kind of narrative style that was favored by silent movies. It also carries that same sense of innocence that sits right alongside the kind of bravado that Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp used to take on the world. However it’s a very modern tale. There is dialogue and the world is much as we see it today, only the two main characters seem to tip it on its side as they go about their madcap romance.
Dom rides through a horrendous rainstorm to his job as the desk clerk at a hotel. He dries off and gets ready for a meal and some quiet time. We watch him move very methodically as he makes a sandwich. Pummeling the bottom of a bottle of ketchup he fails to see the bottle cap fall in and get smothered beneath the sauce. Dom moves with such a purposeful rhythm. He sits down, balances his sandwich on a plate, and turns on the TV. We hear a horse, the beginning of a song and the doorbell interrupts him. Off goes the TV, up goes the plate and he removes himself from his seat. The same pattern repeats and this time it’s the phone. The exasperation builds like a W. C Fields routine. Finally a woman, Fiona comes in for a room, tells him she is a fairy and offers to grant him three wishes. He brushes her off and finally sits down, turns on the TV and bits into that sandwich. He then begins to choke on the bottle cap in his throat. He can’t yell for help, He’s unplugged the phone. Just when he is about done in the fairy women props him on the desk and head buts the cap out of him in a slapstick version of the Heimlich maneuver.
Dom gets two wishes: a new scooter and a limitless supply of gas for life. The infatuation between the two grows. Fiona manages to get half the town chasing her through the pretty bucolic European streets. He saves her. She saves him. Their escapades move episodically through a cast of wild characters. There’s the man who is not allowed to have a dog at the hotel so he puts the dog in a bag and checks in. The bag moves all over the place. There’s a group of three who sit in an abandoned car at the beach who want to get to another city. They help them all. In one of the funniest scenes Dom and Fiona encounter a girl’s rugby team in a crowded tavern. All of this is woven together so well and smoothly. It’s as if the three writers and directors have everything worked out so well that just a gentle tug of a string brings one character into the fray with a problem and another tug solves that problem in the most inventive and creative way.
The two stars, Dom Abel and Fiona Gordon are not athletic twenty or even thirty some-things. They are middle aged actors in their fifties, yet they move with a gracefulness that belies their age. Not only do they exhibit the kind of physicality that Buster Keaton had but they move with the kind of fluidity that assures us they have no solid bones. There is an underwater dance sequence that comes out of nowhere. It’s filled with the sort of bodily expressiveness and humor usually found in adventurous Modern Dance pieces. These two pull off the moves with ease and glide as if gravity did not apply to them. Their characters move as easily through the plot as these actors push, pull and gyrate in and out of the scenes. So much of the film is infused with the kind of sight gags that Jacques Tati would do. They’re funny but very imaginatively staged and thought out.
We never get to Dom’s third wish nor do we find out if Fiona is really a fairy or a woman that has escaped from a mental health facility. That’s apparently where she is on the loose from and where she is taken back to. Though once there her belly magically inflates and we suspect that the dances might have substituted for lovemaking. Although in this film’s world maybe that’s how fairies get pregnant. It doesn’t matter for soon enough there is a little baby accompanying these two.
There is not much to the plot. Instead we just run along with Dom on his fairy, Fiona. The narrative has that same kind of carefree attitude found in screwball comedies of the thirties or the early two reel comedies from the silent era. The Fairy does have a very slick polished and modern feel to it though. At no time does it feel dated or like a pastiche. This is simply the way these characters live in their world. The Artist another French film from 2011 was done in the exact style of the old silent films. The Fairy is not at all a silent film yet it was made by three people who very much loved those old silent comedies. Like the classic three beat rhythm in comedy this film’s creative team also comes in threes. The writing, acting and directing team of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy have created a very unique kind of film here. It’s lots of fun, romantic and decidedly wacky and eccentric. The Fairy is not like much you’ll find in the mainstream, however it comes more than highly recommended.
The film looks bight and fresh throughout. Much of it has a storybook coloring to it. The small buildings in the town are charming. There’s good detail in the texture of the stones in the streets, but the overall look is simply nice. It’s a very nice looking film, as the subject calls for.
5.1 mix presented in original language of French. Subtitles are offered in English.
Trailer and a stills gallery
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic:
Blu-Ray – Excellent
Movie – Excellent