"The Fairy" delights with its gorgeous, dynamic visuals and a goofy, magical sense of physical comedy.
There may be better films in the theaters this week, but there surely is none easier to like than "The Fairy." This crazy featherweight comedy is packed with immediate pleasures: impeccably designed sight gags, daredevil physical comedy, stylized colors and music.
The main characters are Dom (Dominique Abel), a night clerk in a shabby Le Havre hotel, and Fiona (Fiona Gordon), who arrives at the check-in desk without luggage and announces that she is a fairy. Abel and Gordon are professional circus clowns and a couple in real life, and they interlock so seamlessly onscreen that you know they are destined to fall in love. They gaze at each other with affection so unmistakably honest that it clearly comes from the actors, not the characters.
In their courtship, they transform the drab industrial port city into a goofy wonderland. They swim to the bottom of the sea and do a loony dance in kelp swimwear. They entangle themselves inside a gigantic overcoat and become a bizarre, lumbering composite person. They bump up against pushy authority figures -- his boss, various police, the nurse at the mental hospital where she's briefly committed -- but always manage to lasso reality and wrestle it into submission.
Abel and Gordon co-directed with their co-star, Bruno Romy, who plays a disastrously nearsighted bartender. The three are not storytellers. The action is elliptical, and entire scenes -- as crucial to the plot as Fiona's instant pregnancy, which inflates her to beach-ball size in seconds -- are hurried along with the barest acknowledgement.
Where the filmmakers dazzle is in their depiction of motion. I can't think of a working director who films movement more graciously, joyfully and beautifully. Their clowning is hilarious rubber-band ballet.
The film's visual design harks back to the deliberate, proudly worn artificiality of Jacques Tati. Each scene setup functions like a single-panel cartoon, with every detail essential to the joke and no distractions. The dialogue is minimal, but it hardly matters. When your performers have faces and bodies this expressive, who needs words?