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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga  rating

Review: written 2020

Loving, patchy pastiche of Eurovision

 Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision. It always divides opinion – my brain tells me I hate it, and yet I often end up watching it, and spend the time groaning at the songs, mocking the politically biased voting and shuddering at the sheer earnestness of something quite so camp... and then end the evening having somehow paradoxically quite enjoyed myself. The same can probably be said about how I feel about this movie. I started out pretty stony faced and not expecting much, got exactly what I expected, and yet somehow somewhere along the way I got carried away with it and ended up by the end having quite enjoyed myself.

Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel MacAdams) are bottom tier Icelandic musicians who are given an unexpected opportunity to represent Iceland in the titular music competition, despite their community’s lack of belief in them. In particular, Lars’ father (in a gloriously hammy turn by Pierce Brosnan) consistently puts Lars down. Fire Saga’s path to the competition however, gives them an opportunity to find out what can happen when you hang on to your dreams… sound corny and sentimental? Well, it is a movie about Eurovision after all. And it actually strikes just about the right chord in terms of tone – Will Ferrell is just standard Will Ferrell, but the chemistry with MacAdams really works thanks to a naïve sweetness that she manages to project. The comedy notes are slapstick and farce, notably the Russian singer suppressing his sexual identity, who wants to steal Sigrit away from Lars, and the mad last minute geography-defying drive in a Mini round Edinburgh landmarks to reach the stadium in time for the final. The other countries songs hit exactly the right note of kitchiness and .. well, Eurovision-ness, and there is an amusing ‘song-a-long’ in the middle which was around the point where I started to realise I might be enjoying the movie more than I ought to. There are numerous cameos, most of which you would only know if you were an aficionado of the contest, but also folks like Demi Lovato and Graham Norton appear.

 Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision truly does act as a pastiche of itself, and needs no mocking to make clear its absurdity – so this movie will really remain quite redundant. However, in the end, we are asked to be won over by something quite corny, cheesy, over-produced and overlong… but with conviction and heart behind it. Rather like the competition itself. And if you can let it, you might find yourself just tapping along and getting just a little carried away. Deserves more than the nul points many critics seem to have given it, even if it isn’t a winner.

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