If you’re looking for a queer film that’ll totally take your mind off the modern world, we may have found the perfect one: Sebastiano Mauri’s Fairytale (Favola).
This Italian surreal comedy, starring Filippo Timi based on his stage play, throws you into a skewed vision of 1950s America as Mrs Fairytale plays the perfect (and perfectly repressed) housewife whose prudish life slowly unravels. Are UFOs coming to get her? Is her stuffed poodle, Lady, getting around without her knowledge? Will in-home mambo lessons free her inner animal? It’ll take more than a few cocktails to bring her back to Earth. Meanwhile her best friend, Mrs Emerald, is on hand to support her even as her own marriage hits the rocks.
Few things are what they seem in Fairytale/Favola, a technicolored treat that sees Mrs Fairytale pulled apart piece by piece. Part screw-ball comedy (imagine Doris Day and Lucille Ball combined) and part mindtrip – it’s certainly not your average queer film.
Timi inhabits the skin of Mrs Fairytale completely, to the point that it doesn’t feel like a drag performance at all. For every comedic tickle he also delivers a dramatic punch; Fairytale’s monologue about love and physical perfection are beautifully done.
As a critique of the 50s and the American dream, the film clothes its punches in velvet gloves. A hat rack by the front door is filled with guns. Mrs Fairytale brushes off the fact that her husband hits her between pills and drinks. Her lust and simultaneous fear of the men who come to her house is barely contained.
The real star of the film is the over-the-top period design (including costumes by Fabio Zambernardi, director of design for Miu Miu and Prada). The set is a doll’s house of colours and textures. Every window shows a different vista of America, from skyscrapers, to the wide dusty plains, to 50s suburbia. It’s perfectly and subtly twisted. As Mrs Fairytale stares out the window, the black and white TV behind her shows a man getting electric shock therapy, there’s always more going on here than expected.
Will Mrs Fairytale be able to find a true life for herself? Will she and Mrs Emerald be able to forge a new, radical kind of relationship? Things take more than a few unexpected turns.
Fairytale/Favola is frankly bonkers, but it’s an enjoyable, colourful kind of crazy, that feels refreshingly weird and oh, so Italian. Don’t expect a traditional narrative and don’t expect it to all make sense, just pour yourself a drink and go along for the ride.
By Chad Armstrong
Fairytale/Favola is released on DVD and VOD in the United States on Monday May 12th by Breaking Glass Pictures.