This latest farce from Franco comedy trio Able, Gordon, Romy is erratic but nonetheless enjoyable.
Say what you will about the daft Francophone comedies of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, you’ve got to credit them for putting their collective heart and soul into a cinematic project that is so unreservedly, worldbeatingly unfashionable.
This follow-up to 2008’s sweet/slight Rumba sees the trio cheerfully herding together the same cavalcade of mirthful influences – Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton via Georges Méliès, Jacques Demy, Mr Bean, Benny Hill and dayglo, quasi-subversive children’s television – to produce a set piece-driven romantic comedy that becomes more than a mere mulch of earnest namechecking.
Abel plays Dom, a weedy night clerk for a hotel in Le Havre who receives a strange visit from an apparently insane drifter named Fiona (Gordon) who introduces herself as a fairy. After she saves his life, Dom falls in love with Fiona and she grants him three wishes. Following a wild night of skinny-dipping (and the actors’ wiry frames give extra credence to the term) and an eccentric undersea courtship dance, she is thrown into an asylum before he can have his third and final wish granted.
The narrative is delightfully unhinged to the point that it perhaps has a few too many diversions and tributaries for its own good. The sight of Abel and Gordon knotting their elastic frames together in a variety of innovative poses is a joy; you only wish they were as inventive and flexible as storytellers. Their sense of romance is infectious, and a simple set-up such as Fiona using a mirror to reflect sunlight to catch Dom’s attention while he tends to his rooftop garden, is executed with admirable deftness.
Yet if it’s the sole function of a comedy to make the audience chuckle, then you’d be inclined to chalk The Fairy up as something of a charming failure.
More creative, conceptual clowning from Abel, Gordon and Romy.
All over the place, but somehow it retains a sweet tonal cohesiveness.
Never brilliant in any single aspect, but you’d happily join them for another madcap adventure.