Review - 'Fairly-A-Tale' by Koh Chong Wu

'Fairly-a-tale' is brave attempt to marry several genres together. It can be described as narrative fiction with broadway ambitions and a touch of TV drama. It tells the story of a young man who is drawn into the world of fairies and strongly believes they exist. He spends a great deal of time in a public park playing a sort-of Steve Irvin figure to the forest and to song and dance too. My heart skipped a beat when the music started and all the peripheral characters broke into a broadway-esque number. No need to wait for the fairies to appear!

As much the effort to orchestrate a big group of talents into a moving and singing tableau is applaudable, these theatrical extensions seem like ill-fitting gene transplants that take our attention away from the film’s main conservationist message. The film is essentially about a young man’s attempt to prove that natural forested reserve is worth preserving instead of being redeveloped (Sounds like a tribute to Bukit Brown). More specifically, he believes fairies inhabit the reserve somewhere. Facing skepticism from people around him, most of all his family, the film slips into the familiar ‘I see things that you don’t’. A somewhat unintentionally funny moment surfaces when the father, played by Channel 8 veteran Richard Low, chastises him for his beliefs in fairies. It’s a funny Channel 8 brushes Channel 5 moment akin to stodgy conservative family values meeting Hollywood-inspired adventure!

Undeniably, the simple family scenes are also the most of enjoyable part of the film where it is easy to identify with the characters. After this, the film goes downhill into a painfully predictable payoff to the fairy belief – presenting the real fairies in action and striking up a bit of Disney romance between the young man a young female fairy. In fact, come to think of it, it’s all Disney after all, humans entering the a fantasy realm and the characters teach them a moral of two that they bring back to the human world to make the world a better place. Somehow, drawing on a tested formula like Disney seems to validate the film a bit more. Maybe it just needs a bigger budget and accent-free fairies. 

Review by Jeremy Sing
This film was recently screened at Substation's First Takes

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