Liza, the Fox-Fairy [2015]


Also known as Liza, a rókatündér by Károly Ujj Mészáros – a director completely unknown to me before this. Saw this at Orion, the theater of the National Audiovisual Institute which primarily manages the Finnish Film Archives.

So we have Liza, who’s been alone for all her life. She has this idea that, when she turns 30, she’ll meet the love of her life at her favorite restaurant – slightly desperate dreamer that she is… Unfortunately that makes her (not really) imaginary friend angry. Instead of love, Liza finds potential lovers dropping dead like flies. The police get involved thinking that Liza must be behind the deaths. The sergeant assigned to the case does his job, but following Liza around predictably makes him fall in love with her. It takes a while, but finally Liza reciprocates and they break the curse. Nobody dies anymore.

Romantic comedy is a genre that I usually avoid with a passion. I don’t think I really realized that Liza, the Fox-Fairy is one, when I decided to watch it. When I found myself with an unexpected few extra hours at hand and noticed that it was playing at Orion, I headed there without second thought. I originally considered this for my program during last year’s Love & Anarchy Film Festival, but in the end it barely missed the cut, so I didn’t give it a second thought, although I’ve forgotten why I was originally intrigued by the film.

Comedies are difficult to start with. Add romance and usually these films start with a few laughs, then run out of jokes, and introduce something that should engage the average viewer – romance. Unfortunately, the romance is usually half-assed at best. There’s no charisma, no chemistry, no ideas. It’s just something to carry the film to full feature length. Once the romance is done (yes, they do get each other), they end with a few more jokes and hope that the audience remembers the jokes… The pattern is so prevalent, that I can’t really figure out, who wants to see more than two of these.

Appears that this style of film can be given a better treatment. After seeing the film my first thought about why this one got romantic comedy right, was that this is a comedy, so it manages the non-comedic bits by doing them over the top. That’s getting it backwards though. The integrity of the characters or the story is never compromised for comedic reasons. Instead the comedy is in seeing the events from the outside. Ok, there’s some scenes that are there purely for the comedy, but they are handled delicately in order to keep everything intact. You get a story that is by itself very touching, the characters have chemistry and the romance is built with time, care and loving – but it’s presented in a quirky manner reminiscent of the likes of Wes Anderson, and Takashi Miike’s earlier pieces that were still infused with mind boggling associations and lacking polish. Despite being quirky, this avoids the traps of the American indie films – it’s more than its quirks.

  • Director: Károly Ujj Mészáros
  • Original Title: Liza, a rókatündér
  • Watched on: August or Septempber 2016
  • Watched at: Orion
  • 5/5



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