Immensely funny but also deeply sincere, this comedy is exactly what people need right now.
My goodness what a joyful if somewhat wacky comedy this new Netflix film is. With all its unique twists and turns (including how Fire Saga end up at the Eurovision Song Contest) its probably best that you don’t try and follow the plot – rather just go along with it and see what happens.
While this year’s contest didn’t take place, this is a pretty good alternative as Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and his singing partner Sigrid (Rachel McAdams) dream of performing at the Eurovision Song Contest, after being inspired by ABBA’s win. But they have obstacles to overcome along the way – including Lars’s father being disapproving of his dream as well as being considered as laughing stocks by the panel selecting the twelve finalists for Iceland.
There is no denying that this is quite a goofy film, yet somehow it is also wonderfully endearing – particularly given the friendship between Lars and Sigrid and the way in which they manage to blunder through every situation thrown at them (none of which I’m going to spoil here). For fans of Eurovision, this also feels like a real celebration of what the contest should be about: fun and unity – highlighted in the wonderful sequence in which former Eurovision Song Contestants appear to perform a mix up of songs such as “Believe,” “Waterloo,” “Ray of Light” and “I Gotta Feeling,”. It is so wonderful to see Conchita Wurst, John Lundvik, Bilal Hassani, and Netta all tied in with this film – adding a nice touch of authenticity to it, even if some of the incidents dotted throughout the film are a bit over the top.
Directed by David Dobkin, the film is filled with some spectacular moments – not least the way in which the contest and its performances are brought to life. Fantastic sounding songs tied in with routines that will make you laugh – it really feels like a warm tribute to this much loved competition.
Will Ferrell as Lars uses his comic skills to great effect, somehow still managing to make the character endearing as opposed to over the top that makes the audience really root for him. In particular the scene in which Lars stands up to his father (Pierce Brosnan) is perhaps the most genuine and heartfelt moment in the film. Meanwhile, Rachel McAdams is more than a match as Sigrid, matching Ferrell’s comedy timing just as impressively – yet never making her character ridiculous. It is a partnership that really works, while the more quirky elements of her character (her belief in elves for example) are never overplayed. But Dan Stevens is an utter revelation as Russian contestant Alexander Lemtov – enhancing the theatricality of the character brilliantly yet never making him feel like a caricature – his performance of ‘Lion of Love’ is a real treat.
Yes this is a film that is flamboyant – but importantly it has plenty of heart to keep the characters likeable and the wackiness of the unfolding plot filled with as many laughs as well as being endearing. It isn’t perfect – but somehow that works in its favour.
By Emma Clarendon
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is available to watch on Netflix now.