The creative writing/directing Belgian trio of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy must have repeatedly challenged each other’s imaginations to go wild and wilder for this surrealistic, delightful tale. And it’s personal since Dominique Abel plays Dom, Fiona Gordon is the fairy Fiona, and Bruno Romy is a patron at L’Amour Flou, the wacky Love Is Blurred bar with a hopelessly myopic bartender.
The completely episodic tale begins with Dom bicycling to his night job. He sets up in front of his TV and puts in a tape only to endure interruption after interruption after interruption. Visually, the camera watches, records, and lets the droll action and reaction unfold. Rarely does a film so completely trust its unbridled, daring zaniness.
Some have credited Chaplin and Keaton, and their influences certainly show, especially one wild chase late in the film. But the superb, nearly silent French comic Jacques Tati comes most often to mind, though this trio sports its own unique creativity. For example, Fiona and Dom frolic on the beach and soon move to express their love in an underwater dance sequence. Chases on foot culminate in humorous, unexpected ways. Playing it straight, as if all of this is quite normal, the actors perfectly deliver the zany comedy.
Fearless, it seems, The Fairy infuses pointed political commentary. Capitalizing on the French port city of Le Havre as the location, one scene involves African immigrants trying to get to Great Britain via ferry. And Fiona’s assignment to a psychiatric ward provides an opportunity to question who’s sane in a crazy world.
The Fairy is the opposite of cookie cutter fare; there’s no way to guess what ideas it will pursue and where the story will end. As with the trio’s previous film Iceberg, the best and most wonderfully rewarding strategy is to surrender to the inspired absurdity and enjoy the ride. In French with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.