Color, 2011, 94m.
Directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon & Bruno Romy
Starring Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Philippe Martz, Bruno Romy
Kino Lorber (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD5.1, MK2 (France R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Color, 2011, 94m.
Terms like "whimsical" and "quirky" have become easy to distrust in recent years when applied to films after a multitude of cloying or gimmicky attempts to copy the success of art house favorites like Amelie, but the words feel both appropriate and still insufficient to describe the giddy experience of The Fairy. This fantasy/comedy/musical marks the third film from the trio of writer/director/actors Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy, former circus performers who previously made the excellent L'iceberg and Rumba, and it's yet another daffy, indescribable feather in their caps.
The madness begins when night-shift hotel clerk Dom (Abel) finds his attempts to curl up with a sandwich and a movie repeatedly interrupted by two new guests: an English tourist (Martz) trying to smuggle in his dog Mimi and an odd woman named Fiona (Gordon) who claims to be a fairy and offers Dom three wishes. After much prompting, Dom finally wishes for a new scooter and an endless supply of gas, both of which Fiona grants him. However, his third wish is waylaid by a number of factors: the runaway Mimi and her retrieval, repeated visits to a cafe called L'Amour Flou run by a nearsighted manager (Romy), Fiona's shoplifting and on-and-off status as a mental patient who plays poker with prescription pills, a trio of African immigrants, a group of female rugby players who stage torch songs with a unique source for their wind machine, an evening of skinny dipping that turns into an underwater dance number with a giant clam, and Fiona's sudden pregnancy that results a few days later in a baby named Jimmy. Will Dom ever get to make his third wish, or will his crazy true love keep him too busy to even bother?
This crew's films have inspired comparisons to a number of influences ranging from Jacques Tati and Jean Vigo to Buster Keaton, but you don't need to know the first thing about silent or French comedy to get a big kick out of this one. (However, a little knowledge of the language itself will help appreciate a number of goofy puns impossible to fully capture with English subtitles.) This film is really, really funny from start to finish, with a nice range of comedy styles ranging from contained situational silliness (the dog bits) to slapstick chase scenes (including Fiona's great flight from irate shopkeepers and policemen in which she takes time out to steal and put on lipstick before her big date), not to mention some of the aforementioned graceful dance scenes. There's really nothing else quite like this out there right now, and hopefully everyone involved will keep evolving with terrific little gems like this for years to come. Definitely recommended, and perhaps apart from some sweetly innocent nudity in one scene, it's something you can actually show the whole family.
Kino Lorber handled American distribution for Rumba, so they were the obvious ones for this, the most elaborate of the trio's productions to date. Both Blu-Ray and DVD options are available, but definitely go for the former option if you can as the visuals really make the most out of the striking coastal setting and creative production design. It's not a huge budget film, of course, but for what they have at their disposal, it's a nice piece of eye candy. The packaging indicates a 1.85:1 presentation (like the French DVD), but it's actually opened up more at the top and bottom to 1.78:1; judging from the slight curved edges on the corners, it appears the maximum amount of picture information is actually on display here. The French audio is presented in both 5.1 and 2.0 options, with a little extra channel separation for the rear channels with the 5.1 but nothing too crazy going on surround-wise overall. For some reason none of the gang's films have ever had all of their French video extras carried over to other countries (for example, their great short films are only available on French DVDs of their first two films without English-friendly options), and that's still the case here. Fortunately it's not a big deal this time as the French DVD only adds some minor deleted snippets of footage and interviews with the filmmakers (again, not English friendly); the Kino Lorber release instead has the American trailer and a stills gallery.