“Jaja Ding Dong”
A whimsically daft journey into the global talent show phenomena. “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is now showing on Netflix and if you’re after an easy-watch comedy with some hilarious moments then this will fill your evening schedule with little trouble.
The film is centred around two Icelandic musicians, Lars Erikssong (played by Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (played by Rachel McAdams), lifelong fanatics of the Eurovision Song Contest who finally get their shot as contestants after a group of Icelandic producers inadvertently select their band Fire Saga to fill the roster.
Lars‘ local fisherman Father is played by the enigmatic Pierce Brosnan who interestingly looks younger than his on-screen son. He embodies the disapproving Dad abiding his man-child’s antics for too long but does so with a bewildering conviction. I mean in what universe could we conceive “007” as Buddy the Elf’s biological parent. Murky Icelandic accent aside it works a treat.
We’ve grown accustomed to Ferrell’s unique brand of humour over the last 15 years or so and whilst it’s fair to say the last few years for Ferrell have fallen short of previous successes like Anchorman, Step Brothers or The Other Guys, I can confidently say this a welcome return to form. There are few actors out there that can harness the giddy campiness of Eurovision but for Lars Erikssong, it comes as easy as his smooth vocals. However the star of the show here is Rachel McAdams’ character Sigrit. A far more believable Scandinavian than middle-aged Ferrell and chock full of range not to mention an absolute match for his comedic patter. Spoiler alert – the musical numbers are not voiced by the actress herself however it doesn’t even matter, Sigrit performs with such zeal that the audience is pulled in to the songs so well that you find yourself singing along to the second chorus after the hearing the first. The underlying romance between the two leads takes a back seat to the humour and spectacle on display but it’s a charming chemistry nonetheless. This romantic tug of war is epitomised during a party scene, where we get a chance to indulge in a cabaret of exuberance gleefully performed by the competing nations’ contestants and Lars has to contend with the advances of powerhouse Russian frontrunner Alexander Lemtov, played by Dan Stevens.
One could argue that the run time here (clocking in at just over the 2 hour mark) is a tad long, I feel a slightly slimmer script would have added that replay value modern films seems to lack but still there’s a lot to like here. Whether it’s the chemistry from the leads, the songs that belt out unashamedly or the constant delivery of jokes but for me the real victory comes from Fire Saga’s central theme – to follow your heart and stay true to yourself, even if the world thinks you’re nuts.
Wholly stupid, entirely improbable but at it’s core The Story of Fire Saga is a sweet, funny film with a message of inclusivity and self belief that the world could use now more than ever.