Film Corner: Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision Song Contest

[Content Note: Rape. Did not finish.]

I think I'm well enough today to live-tweet a movie, and I've really wanted to watch EUROVISION on Netflix. Kissmate has never seen the Eurovision song contest, and I've been trying to explain it as an American who only really got into it all about 3 years ago. "It's like normal pop music but with outlandish costumes and special effects, and also sorta like the Doof Wagon from Mad Max Fury Road" was maybe not the BEST way to describe the event.

Okay, we're in Iceland in 1974. I have *no idea* how much Eurovision was a thing in 1974, because I am an ignorant American. Please assume I know nothing. A family watches ABBA singing Waterloo at Eurovision, and a little boy who "misses his mother" is transfixed. Aww! Little Lars and Sigrit dance happily while the family jeers with varying degrees of affection. (Lars' father says he'd "rather be dead" than see his son dance at Eurovision.)

We time-skip to the present day while grown-up Lars and Sigrit sing in English whilst wearing lovely silver outfits and makeup.

...this is AMAZING. That was the most beautiful over-the-top music video I've ever seen, and alas it was just the "vision" Lars and Sigrit have while they practice in their garage. Kissmate is rewinding so we can watch it again. We have now watched the VOLCANIC PROTECTOR MAN music video three times. The cats are entranced. Kissmate has perfected Lars' part.

Sigrit's mother doesn't like her singing with Lars Erickssong. ("His name is Erickssong," Kissmate and I say in unison.) Lars' father, Pierce Brosnan, mourns that he is being forced to sell the house due to financial troubles. Whales surface and twirl in unison, because Sweden [Editor's Note: Iceland]. I am cackling so hard my chest-incision hurts. Lars is frustrated because everyone only wants to hear them play Ja Ja Ding Dong. Sigrit wants him to help her ask the elves for aid, but Lars doesn't believe in elves. LARS.

Oh! Sorry, I am corrected (thank you, @CharlieEdmunds!) that we are in Iceland, not Sweden. The whales confused me, you see, because look over there a puppy. We get to see the Eurovision submission video of one Katiana, who seems like the full package. She could be Iceland's ticket to win for the first time! But...then they'd have to host the next year's contest. I crack up. Nobody wants to host shit like the Olympics because tourists come in and wreck everything. Please tell me they're going to replace Katiana with Lars *because* they don't want to win?

YES. "The cost of hosting will bankrupt the whole country." Oh no, the others don't want to listen to Victor. And they're missing an act--they need 12 acts instead of just 11. They decide to pick an act at random since Katiana will win. YES. Lars runs to tell the entire town that Fire Saga (their band) got into the Iceland song contest. He rings the emergency bell to bring the ships in and I'm crying laughing. I love this small town. Sigrit leaves whiskey and gifts with the elf friends and asks if they wouldn't mind helping them win and get into Eurovision. I believe in the elves and in Sigrit.

I am haunted by the sight of Lars in a skin-tight white bodysuit as he shoves some sort of improvised packer down his leotard in order to look bigger down there. Lars goes out and catches the last half of Katiana's amazing act and runs out (where?), causing Sigrit to be pushed out on stage alone. Oh no! He's trying to reach her! HE'S CLIMBING OVER THE AUDIENCE TO GET TO HER! OH NO, there's an equipment malfunction with Lars' wings and he falls to the stage. He and Sigrit are humiliated and it's so sad. Babies.

Sigrit and he miss the after-party on a boat and confess their love. It's super sweet and gentle and then the BOAT BLOWS UP. OH MY GOD.

Kissmate: "Now they're the only ones left to go to Eurovision? But who blew it up??"


Kissmate: "If it was elves, I will scream. This is why you don't mess with the fae."

Ana: "It's either elves or Victor the financier guy."

Sigrit: "The elves went too far!" hasdkjahkjhasdhakdah oh my god.

Lars and Sigrit are off to Edinburgh where they are agog at the splendor of the mini-bar in the wee hotel room where they've been put up. Oh my god. The band tech practices. Russia. RUSSIA. YES. Lars, being Lars, has decided to leave as a surprise that Iceland has hired a creative team to enhance their act. Oh my god. The lead Russian singer invites Lars and Sigrit to his castle party full of "ancient Greek statues" with enormous penises and faces identical to the Russian's. We pause to breathe from the awkwardness.

The Russian skillfully separates Lars and Sigrit before making the moves on Sigrit. An impromptu medley party begins (THE EUROVISION FIDDLER) and Sigrit sounds beautiful and the Russian doesn't complement her at all, which is a very clever way of showing their incompatibility. The fireworks, cameos, and ACROBATICALLY THROWN WAITERS in the background are truly sublime.

Kissmate loves the characterization that the Russian refuses to harmonize and instead keeps trying to overpower the song BUT he is also causing unpleasant flashbacks to bad choir practice, lolsob. He's so actively ruined the song that you don't want to listen to the song again, even though it was otherwise very pretty. Side note but the cameos here are wonderful and I'm almost crying because Bilal Hassani is my entire, like, aesthetic goals. I love him? So much? I just. Yes.

I do have to wonder why Russian Guy is so devoted to breaking up Sigrit and Lars? They're not serious competition, so it seems unlikely to be motivated by that. Is he actually just interested in her for being her? Like, as a general rule of thumb, your sleazy decoy love interest should not have more chemistry with her designated love interest.

[TW: Rape] Okay. So. Okay. Lars has been depicted as inexperienced and even borderline uninterested in sex. After he and Sigrit are separated, a woman from the party shows up to his room and I don't know how to characterize the scene other than saying it's rape. The woman grabs his genitals over his objections, says "this is happening", and pushes him roughly onto the bed while he wails "I'm scared" before the scene cuts to black. It's supposed to be funny because woman-on-man rape is """funny""". NO.

[TW: Rape] I am genuinely angry because I was enjoying this lovely nice Eurovision movie and now I have to put rape trigger warnings all over everything and it is goddamn 2020 and rape is NOT FUNNY. I HATE THIS SO MUCH. Like, they very clearly had Lars be raped so that he could still end up with Sigrit without having emotionally cheated on her. So they characterize sex as dirty, and rape as a special loophole for men to "get" sex without blame. NO.

[TW: Rape] Sigrit wakes up in the Russian's bed; he's been watching her for six hours and braiding her hair. He took her to his bed after she was rendered deeply drunk at the club (way too drunk to consent to any of this). The Russian insists that he didn't rape Sigrit but I still characterize all this as an assault, and it just reinforces that Sigrit wasn't raped because a raped woman wouldn't be funny, but Lars was raped because a man raped by a pretty woman is "funny".

[TW: Rape] We still haven't seen what happened with Lars--we haven't returned to him--so I'm still watching at this point *only* to verify whether or not I'm right about what happened after the "fade to black". I am hearing from folks that Lars was not raped (nor did consensual sex occur), so I'm putting that here before I continue. BUT it still means I saw an *implied* rape and that's triggering for survivors like myself and unnecessary in a Eurovision comedy.

[TW: Rape] Like, yay that apparently there is a late-movie twist that Lars wasn't raped, but that doesn't make the scene less played for laughs. It still relies on male rape as being chuckle-worthy rather than "omg, turn off the tv, I'm triggered now." I just. There are *genre expectations*. I'm not against rape in movies but there's a big difference between watching a drama vs. settling in for a happy fluffy comedy and then suddenly THIS.

...Kissmate and I have lost all interest in this movie, which is a pretty fast turnaround given how invested we were during the sing-along. Like, never have I so quickly lost all my goodwill for a film.

Russian continues to creep on Sigrit, demonstrating that he heard a private song she sang in her sleep and otherwise trying to force an intimacy bond she hasn't consented to. It's like a nice musical comedy suddenly turned into a stalker film. Sigrit runs back to the hotel to find Lars apparently naked in bed with the woman from before, also apparently naked. Lars sleepily asks Sigrit if she "remembers Mita?" and then lies back down when Sigrit runs out.

[TW: Rape] So, I mean, yeah, there's every implication that Mita's non-consensual sexual assault on Lars ended in sexual congress of either a "funny" rape or by "turning his no into yes" (ew ew ew) (also rape).

We're seriously considering not finishing the movie. Kissmate notes, too, that this setup means that Sigrit is tormented by the prospect of Lars' emotional cheating in order for Lars to learn some kind of life lesson about how to better treat her. Actually, no, Kissmate notes that the entire premise of the movie so far has been the torment of Sigrit over and over again as Lars blissfully hurts her and dismisses her feelings.

Lars and Sigrit have a fight in public and Lars threatens to "sleep with everyone" and proceeds to sexually harass the eurovision workers. I'm- I'm literally giving this five minutes to get better or we're quitting. Lars comes close to the self-awareness that sexually harassing a stagehand was not moral, but the scene is interrupted to complain about Americans, Game of Thrones, and Starbucks. Yep, we're done.

I don't care enough to watch another hour of this to learn precisely what happened after the fade-to-black. That's the risk you take with a rape joke; the audience may choose not to stick around to hear the "just kidding!" punchline.

Big big thanks to Mireille, who finishes the movie out here.

I keep coming back to the cardinal problem of the movie being that it was a Will Ferrell vehicle for Will Ferrell to play Will Ferrell and mess things up by being Will Ferrell. That's how it ends up being over-extended on the torment of Sigrit, and where several jokes fall flat.

Whereas if you put someone like Michael Cera in the role, you could have a movie about two band members who value different things and learn to meet in the middle. The Boy Who Wants To Win could learn to value the flowers you smell along the way, while the Girl Who Is Just Happy To Be Here could learn the true value of her talent and start craving victory. But instead we got this and my mistake was assuming Will Ferrell could still make a decent movie rather than a string of character jokes based on a one-dimensional persona. Eh.


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