Fairytale

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Fairytale Movie Poster Image
Surreal Italian satire has adult themes.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 87 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes of self-acceptance, courage, and following your heart are at the forefront of the movie. The overall message is that the "fairytale" life is not always what we think it will be.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gender stereotypes are rife -- though used to make a point -- with the wives trapped at home to cook, clean, and look attractive for their husbands. The husbands are out at work all day and portrayed as abusive and unfaithful. Depression is mentioned to highlight how it was, and still is, overlooked. The dark, absurdist nature of the movie means there are no specific role models per se. There is strong LGBTQ representation, with a homosexual relationship presented as the major love story and gender identity explored through the journey and cross-gender casting of the main character.

Violence

Guns are kept in the home and repeatedly pointed at people, including a character suicidally holding one to their own head and another being shot dead. A character is tied up with a bag placed over their head. Pills are placed in alcoholic drinks causing two characters to pass out. There is mention of cutting off a penis. Reference to domestic abuse. Two characters are involved in a struggle with each other. A rope, knife, and candlestick are cited as potential murder weapons. There is a small fire in the kitchen and talk of incineration connected to a UFO invasion. A pet dog has been embalmed and there is mention of blood and death.

Sex

There is mild flirtation and talk of sex lives and affairs. Characters dance seductively, begin to undress each other, and kiss. Two characters are seen in their lingerie in bed, implying they are post-intercourse. A body-building magazine is treated as though it is pornographic. Reference is made to losing virginity and having an erection. There is talk of sexuality and gender identity. A character goes into labor.

Language

There is no swearing, but language includes "frippet," "sissy," "nookie," "butt," and "freak of nature." Various words for penis are also used including "member" and "pecker."

Consumerism

There is an emphasis on the interior of a home and women's fashion, but no brands are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters regularly smoke cigarettes and alcohol -- including cocktails and spirits -- is consumed almost constantly, with a character seen to be drunk. There is mention of amphetamines and addiction. Drinks are spiked with sleeping pills, causing two characters to pass out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fairytale -- original name Favola -- is an intriguing Italian dramedy, with English subtitles, that tackles LGBTQ issues, including gender identity and an anti-gay society. Beginning life as a stage play, the movie takes place entirely in one location. It satirizes the 1950s American dream, so includes gender stereotypes and sexism, though these are played for irony and comedy. There is a transgender narrative in that the main character of Mrs. Fairytale is played by male actor Filippo Timi. This may be confusing for some children, but also a good opportunity to begin a conversation. There is mention of domestic abuse and a struggle between a husband and wife. Guns are aimed and shot, with one character considering suicide and another shot dead. There is kissing and the implication of sex, but much of the flirting and seduction is played for laughs. Drinking and smoking are almost constantly shown. Two characters are also drugged when their drinks are spiked with sleeping pills. Both the settings and characters are surreal, larger than life, and full of quirks. Though dark at times, the movie is a lot of fun and has a strong message about identity and individuality.

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What's the story?

In FAIRYTALE, 1950s housewife Mrs. Fairytale (Filippo Timi) is trapped inside the American dream, with a beautiful suburban home full of the latest furniture and fashion. She lives for her beloved dog -- a mischievous stuffed poodle called Lady -- and daily visits from her friend Mrs. Emerald (Lucia Mascino). But, beneath the surface, she is in an abusive marriage, questioning her identity, and finding that her version of a fairytale is something very different to the one she's been sold. When the two housewives fall in love, they plan to do whatever it takes to be together -- even if that means murder. But is there really a way for them to be completely free when society won't accept them for who they are?

Is it any good?

Entering the world of this film is like walking into a Technicolor fantasy, albeit one that is slightly off center. The vibrant sets, with their brightly colored carpets and flamingo wallpaper, look like they've sprung from the catalog of a design museum, given a surreal edge with some jittery editing and claustrophobic framing. That feeling of being trapped is enhanced by the single location -- an element inherited from the movie's beginnings as a stage play -- written by Timi himself and first produced in 2011. The costumes by Prada's design director Fabio Zambernardi are equally flamboyant and a smart way to enhance the stereotypes and gender issues explored in the film.

The 1950s is the perfect era to examine what's behind the shiny, fashionable mask of middle America, and Fairytale does so with an absurdist, satirical edge that makes it both a bizarre and enjoyable experience. Dark in places, but full of humor and heart in others, the story sees Mrs. Fairytale give up the version of a fairytale imposed on her by society for her own fairytale -- one that's happy ending is grounded in joy, freedom, and personal truth.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of women in Fairytale. How are they portrayed? How does it differ from today? Why is it good to challenge gender stereotypes?

  • Discuss the LGBTQ issues raised in the movie. Do you think they're a fair reflection of real life? What do you think life is like for a member of the LGBTQ community?

  • How does Mrs. Fairytale change during the movie and what does her happy ending look like? How does she display courage? Why is this an important character strength to have? How can I use media to teach my kid courage?

  • The majority of the movie is confined to one location. Can you think of any other movies that are based in one place throughout?

Movie details

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