Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review of THE FAIRY (2012)

- Not Rated but should be rated PG13 for fleeting nudity, although the MPAA would most likely rate it R cause they're dumb.  But it's PG13 style nudity.
- Starring Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
- Written and Directed by Dominque Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy
- Running time: 1hr 34min.

I have not heard of these filmmakers before seeing this French comedy, but after watching it, I will be keeping my eye on them with great interest, as well as checking out their first 2 films.

A lonely hotel clerk named Dom meets Fiona, who enters his place of work looking for a room.  It looks like she just escaped some sort of mental hospital (which she did), but she claims to be a fairy and grants Dom 3 wishes.  He doesn't really think anything of it, but when he almost chokes to death, Fiona comes to his rescue.  He then wishes for a scooter and unlimited gas, and he wakes up the next morning with a scooter in the middle of the tiny hotel lobby, and a key to a gas tank.  The rest of the film is a series of vignettes as Dom and Fiona encounter a variety of zany characters, including a man who (not so secretly) sneaks a dog into the hotel, a nearly blind restaurant owner, 3 illegal immigrants, and a few people from the insane asylum.  Dom and Fiona fall in love and must try to find a way to be together when the fairy is taken back to the asylum.  And what about Dom's last wish?  You'll just have to see.  heh heh. 

I don't even know where to begin here, honestly.  I think I'll just start gushing now.  This has to be one of the most imaginative, articulately planned, strange, wacky, whimsical, unique and flat out hysterical films I have seen in at least a few years.  I haven't laughed this hard in a very long time.  Comedies today just don't impress me much as most of them have a bunch of Saturday Night Live alumni improvising their way through a sketchy story.  It gets old really fast.  I'm frankly getting tired of it.  But THE FAIRY is such a breath of fresh air.  Everything is carefully planned out with perfect comic timing.  Everything happens for a reason of this.  This is very much in the tradition of a classic silent comedy and the films of Jacques Tati.

There are so many memorable set pieces here.  I don't want to give them all away, but I'll tell you a few.  The film starts off low-key as Dom's bike chain breaks on a rainy day on his way to work.  Once there, he makes a sandwich, accidentally putting the cap to a ketchup bottle in it.  Then every time he is about to take a bite, there is a call at the front desk.  This happens several times, and it's just so perfectly built up that when he finally bites into his sandwich, I was anticipating it with comedic suspense.

The scene I laughed at the most (until I was crying) was when the owner of a restaurant (Bruno Romy) is serving Dom and Fiona beer, and he can hardly see anything.  He keeps running into walls, and almost spilling drinks on the two lovers.  Romy's timing in this is exceptional here, and has wonderful body language.  In fact, all the leads have wonderful body language and it left me thinking that maybe they had some training in performance art, cause it certainly feels that way as they gracefully move through the movie.

Both Fiona and Dominique are terrific comedians.  They create wonderfully infectious characters that are extremely likable.  Sure, they're eccentric, but they are so delightful.  And they both do this without hardly saying a word.  There are many sequences without any dialogue, which definitely gives it that silent comedy feel.  I've seen some filmmakers try this and actors try to emulate classic comedies, but many of those attempts turn out flat.  But Fiona and Dom are so graceful and talented that I almost feel like they were born in the wrong time period.  They would have been right at home making films in the 1920's.  Even their direction is minimal, just like those movies.  So many comedies today are overdirected with too much coverage.  But here, the camera is mostly static, the action in perfect frame, and just lets the actors do their thing.  It takes guts and lots of confidence to be able to just let the camera sit there.  It's simple, but most effective.  There's not much character development here, but that's not what this movie is.  It's ABOUT the comedy.  Not the characters.  Which is what the Farrelly's didn't realize when making their 3 STOOGES movie. 

I can't get many of the film's great moments and images out of my head: a marvelous dance number under the sea with Fiona being eaten by a giant clam, a dog thrown into sewer, a flying hospital patient, Dom trying to ride his scooter for the first time, Fiona's kleptomania, a human alarm system, Fiona immediately becoming pregnant and her delivery... there's just so much to talk about.  But no matter what I say, I cannot do this film justice.  You just have to see it!

This is a wonderful movie about 2 souls getting together as they go on a wacky journey through silliness.  Filled with old-fashioned humor, wit and charm.  Just about everything about the film's comedy and humor is perfect.  THE FAIRY is a refreshing jolt of comedic genius.  This is how comedy used to be done, and by no means should it be stopped.  This may not be everyone's cup of tea.  It's pretty strange and you have to be patient for the comedy to pay off.  But if you're a fan of classic comedy, whimsical tales, or just odd films, you will not want to miss this!  It's perfect!

**** (out of ****)

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