Dating would be easier if we were all fox-fairies, the wrong people just drop dead.
Liza, a Hungarian nurse, managed to find her true love within the span of a week, albeit very bloodily. Speaking of blood, some was shed unnecessarily, such as the astronaut and the Eskimo. It’s not until the end that we realize the Japanese pop star, who’s so obsessed with this lady is Death himself.
Although he’s the antagonist of the story, the most entertaining scenes were the ones with him and Liza. Maybe it’s the songs he belts out to every now and then. Maybe it’s because she only dances when he’s around, while the rest of the men just choke on carp in maple syrup and ogle at her breasts.
What makes this film stick out from other fantasy films is the fact that the villain is a Japanese shape-shifting Elvis Presley who doesn’t really do anything except dance numbers and killing sprees.
The way he gazes at her when she laments about the fate of fox-fairies was so intense. If the detective wasn’t there, I would’ve cheered on Liza to gobble all those sleeping pills. While Liza reads the brochure about fox-fairies, she calls it what this film essentially is: a fairytale. Rather, a bedtime story you read to make yourself fall asleep.
The vibe of the film has been constantly compared to “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” because both main characters are naïve women with childish dreams. Because Liza has spent twelve years of her life taking care of the Japanese widow without a break, she never really had the time to grow up. Instead, she gets a taste of it through the dog-eared romance book she reads all the time.
The main character’s development is evident with her outfits, from caretaker uniform, tacky beret with coat and long skirt combo, to a Cosmopolitan model. She wears the last outfit for the rest of the week without even showering. It could be they were done coming up with outfits, or it was an artistic choice.
While the film is devoid of any humanism, it does show the awkward reality of filtering through different men who are mostly out there to sleep with you when all you ask for is someone to lose your eyes in a crab burger restaurant. I think if there were a few men that actually loved her and not just Sergeant Zoltan, the stakes would be higher and the plot wouldn’t feel so repetitive.
The story isn’t something to remember for decades, the second act was predictable and painful to watch because we know all these men mistreat her and end up dying.
However, it compensates for the lack of substance with compelling visuals, such as keeping the chalk outlines of all her victims on the floors of her inherited flat as she invites more men into her place in hopes of finding her Oshima—the love interest in the novel she bases her whole life around. Oshima, in her world, ends up being the detective that is out to find her guilty.
The film presents its off-the-wall elements in a matter-of-fact behavior just like any other black comedy, but the presence of other real-life paraphernalia such as Cosmopolitan and fast food chains keep us from feeling like tourists in this 1970’s capitalist Budapest setting.
When it comes to the comedy, I didn’t laugh until the 16-minute mark, and that’s because I never expected to see a naked man in the next shot looking at a police station notice board. Other than that, there were no surprises as the story repeats itself. It must be more than a cultural barrier as to why their jokes don’t deliver well.
This movie is completely content with itself, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing for some people. It’s original and I haven’t seen other films incorporate completely unrelated things with each other and come up with a story that makes sense, you can’t help but admire its individuality.
Károly Ujj Mészáros might just be the love child of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson. His work with “Liza, the Fox-Fairy” is also compared to Edgar Wright when it comes to using the film’s soundtrack as the strings to pull the characters and storyline, however it desires. It has a healthy mix of kitsch cute and campy edginess, the fake 1960s J-pop songs that may fool some into thinking it’s a musical amplified by Sakurai’s pantomime performance.
Despite all the colorful and whimsical package, it gives us, the theme’s ingenuity falls by the time the film goes full-circle in the 70-minute mark.
Ultimately, it depends on the viewer’s taste, whether “Liza, the Fox-Fairy” is as magical as it implies or overstays its welcome to the point its dull.