ArtsATL > Film > Review: Using classic physical comedy, “The Fairy” spins an achingly magical yarn

Review: Using classic physical comedy, “The Fairy” spins an achingly magical yarn

Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel in "The Fairy."

To describe actors Fiona Gordon as horse-faced and Dominique Abel as hangdog is to insult both animal species. In other words, with their comically uncomely faces, the two seem made for each other. The actor-clowns co-wrote, co-directed and co-star in “The Fairy,” in which … well, quite a lot of silliness goes down.

Will you like it? I really can’t say. For someone with a pretty low tolerance for whimsy myself, I was weirdly charmed. Except for some brief rear nudity and the challenge of reading the (minimal) subtitles, “The Fairy” could also appeal to kids interested in sampling a different flavor of comedy.

Abel plays Dom, a skinny night manager of a shabby hotel in the shabby, gray French port city Le Havre. Into his lobby stumbles the gangly Fiona, who announces, “I’m a fairy. I grant three wishes.”

Dom, deadpan, simply replies, “Do you want a room?”

He also announces his first two wishes: for a scooter and a lifelong supply of gasoline. These Fiona supplies — whether by magic or other means, who can say, because she does spend a central portion of the film locked up in a mental hospital. And if she has supernatural gifts, does she really need to shoplift a dress and nice shoes from a chic boutique? (Answer: yes, because her doing so results in an amusing chase through the streets of the city.)

Using rear projection and low-tech illusions and FX, Abel, Gordon and co-director Bruno Romy (who plays an extremely nearsighted bartender) aim for the physical comedy of old stars such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and France’s own Jacques Tati. They pause the plot mechanics long enough for a couple of goofy dances. And if most of “The Fairy” is a lot of gleeful fluff, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that sums up the feeling of true, improbable love: surrounded by boisterous partiers at an all-night bar, Dom and Fiona gaze at each other, oblivious to anyone else.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Fiona is a real fairy or not. The movie itself conjures up plenty of its own giddy magic.

“The Fairy.” Starring Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon. Directed by Abel, Gordon and Bruno Romy. In French with subtitles. Unrated. 93 minutes. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.

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