Dirs.: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy, France/Belgium, 2011, 93 mins, French with English subtitles
Cast: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy
Review by Maria Sell
Most people will admit to moments in life where they wished a good fairy would seek them out to grant them three wishes. This is exactly what happens to Dom (Dominique Abel) when he meets Fiona a.k.a. The Fairy (Fiona Gordon), in this surreal, romantic comedy, which is co-directed by its stars: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy.
The film opens with down-on-his luck Dom cycling in the rain to work. That is until his bicycle breaks down and he consequently arrives late and is nearly fired from his job as a night receptionist at a small hotel in Le Havre. To make matters worse he almost chokes on his sandwich, but fortune is on his side when The Fairy – one of the hotel’s guests – comes to his rescue and not only saves his life but also grants him three wishes. Consequently, a love story between them ensues, which involves three street-wise illegal immigrants, a café owner (Bruno Romy) who really needs to visit Specsavers, and Dom’s new trusty moped for a quick getaway. A conventional love story this certainly is not.
The Fairy is the third film by the trio, after Rumba and Iceberg, which again features the on-and-off-screen couple Dom and Fiona, as the directors were keen to tell the story of how these characters fell in love.
The comedy is clearly a labour of love and heavily inspired by past filmmakers – an underwater dance sequence reminiscent of the film pioneer Georges Méliès’s work springs to mind. Easy on dialogue and relying on old-school slapstick elements for its comedic moments, it is also more in the Tati-esque style of humour than many of its contemporaries. Thus, patience is definitely a virtue as instead of rapid fire humour, the comic sequences are based on long set-ups and repetitions, which slowly work its charm in the beginning of the film. However, a flabby middle section is overcompensated by an over-the-top chase sequence involving a car bonnet riding baby. And while this burlesque comedy surely does not lack imaginative ideas and set pieces, the sum of its parts are unfortunately better than its whole.
Nevertheless, there is a natural chemistry and easy charm between the pair, which is somewhat unsurprising considering their long background in physical theatre that they share. And it is their performances rather than the script, which make it stand out from its peers.
Ultimately, in a world which can be quite cynical and morose, The Fairy will provide much delight and escapism for those who seek something magical.