The directorial debut from Sebastiano Mauri follows Mrs Fairytale (Filippo Timi), a seemingly content American housewife whose life is flipped upside down following a startling realisation exactly mid-way through the film. Perhaps because of this, the film does feel distinctly in two parts, the first half slightly difficult to settle into but once you settle into Mrs Fairytale’s outlandish B-movie dialogue and screwball comedy, you begin to enjoy the overt world in which Fairytale lies.
Mrs Fairytale never leaves the confines of her technicolor home except for stepping out on the porch to rescue Lady, her embalmed poodle. She spends her days flirting with the repairman, learning the Mambo and gossiping with her confidant, the equally repressed Mrs Emerald (Lucia Mascino). Both women are both equally trapped in unhappy marriages and spend their days flirting over inherent issues such as domestic abuse, affairs and mental health and instead obsess over trivial decisions like when is it appropriate to wear the colour ‘yolk yellow’. The ladies play femme fatale in the latter half of the film with a plot to kill Fairytale’s abusive husband Stan. Fairytale is a larger than life homage to the Kodachrome Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s. The film unashamedly leaps from pregnancy announcements to imminent UFO invasions to murder plots and it can feel quite disorientating, especially within the seemingly looping walls of Fairytale’s home. However, at the heart of Fairytale lies an endearing story of acceptance and freedom.
Visually Fairytale is absolutely stunning, especially for a mid-century enthusiast like myself. I found myself having a great time screaming at all the Formica and gaudy plastic treats popping up on the screen. Aesthetics asides, the artificial Americana bubble Fairytale creates set amongst great sadness is the perfect juxtaposition. These interiors help visually frame the film’s satirical take on the atypical American dream and communicate Fairytale’s flawed superficial happiness.
Thanks to the talents of Fabio Zambernardi (Prada and Miu Miu design director), Fairytale’s costumes are pure joy. Mrs Fairytale has a technicolor uniform of exaggerated florid swing dresses with candy-coloured contrasting collars and cuffs. She accessorises with a string of pearls and signature carved Prada-esque heels, dyed to match her startling clean aprons. In contrast, Emerald dresses the part of an icy cool Hitchcock Blonde, bound in neatly tailored suits and prim knitwear. One outfit, in particular a pale grey suit, is worn by Emerald in a direct homage to Kim Novak’s Vertigo ensemble complete with off white polo neck and chic french-twist. Whereas Novak’s suit is minimally accessorised, Emerald wears horn-rimmed glasses, a thin gold waist belt and an outlandishly large gold brooch —both wear lavender gloves. Emerald also wears an impressive selection of space-age plastic piped capes. On the day of planned murder Fairytale and Emerald swap silhouettes with Fairytale wearing Both outfits are embellished in blood-red jewels, Emerald’s sharp circle skirt encrusted in glittering red gun motifs. Much like the set, the costumes are crucial in the understanding of these larger than life characters and allow the viewer to further escape into Fairytale’s hyper-world.
Although slow to settle into, Fairytale has a lot of charm, with a surprisingly uplifting ending that we could all use right about now.
Fairytale is available on DVD and VOD on May 12th
by Casci Ritchie
Casci (she/her) is an independent dress historian specialising in fashion, film and consumer cultures. Her true great loves – film and fashion – began when she watched her first film noir, The Big Sleep, as a teenager and fell in love Bacall and Bogie hook line and sinker. Some of her favourite films include Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Beetlejuice, Double Indemnity and Cry Baby. You can find her over on Twitter & her blog www.casciritchie.com.