Lisa, a rókatündér (2015, English title: Liza, the Fox-Fairy) is a relatively obscure Hungarian black comedy with fantasy elements, directed by Károly Ujj Mészáros. I came across it a few years ago and immediately fell in love with it. You need to see it to believe how brilliant it is.
It is a unique blend of weirdness, dark humour, romance, and Japanese iconography that makes this an instantly memorable experience. Set in Hungary, the film follows Lisa (Mónika Balsai), a lonely, naive nurse obsessed with Japan. She takes care of an elderly woman, while singing catchy songs with a ghost of a long-dead Japanese pop singer that only she can see. However, this ghost, Tomy Tani (David Sakurai), is not what he seems. And as he sets his plans in motion, people around Lisa start to die, while she comes to the realisation that she might be a cursed demon know as a Fox-Fairy.
So, when Lisa starts to date, her dates start dying. Some of the film’s humour is based on these deaths. Most of them are not particularly gruesome (there is a different reason for the film’s age restriction, nudge nudge wink wink), but most of these are definitely fun. The film even helpfully introduces title cards for the victims, so you know that these characters are about to die. This type of body count draws the attention of the police. Here we are introduced to sergeant Zoltán (Bede-Fazekas Szabolcs), the quiet and very odd detective, trying to get to the truth about all of these damn deaths. I will not spoil much, but Zoltán is probably one of the most badass characters I have ever seen, not just in film, but in all media.
The film takes place in a fictional version of Budapest in the 1970s. But somehow, Hungary in this period is shown to be a capitalist state, with references to Cosmopolitan magazine, and Mekk Burger, a goat-themed parody of McDonalds. This gives the film a sense of uncertainty – it seems to just exist somewhere, somehow. It feels odd and timeless, which helps to underline its stylised aesthetic. It can be likened to films like Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001) or Lola rennt (1998), heavily stylised European films about a quirky female protagonist and her adventures in a romanticised version of a famous capital. However, Lisa, a rókatündér leans more heavily into the fantastical and comedic than the other two.
Although, describing Lisa as “quirky” seems unfair – everyone in her world is weird, in their own special way. They are characterized through their weirdness. They love uncomfortably weird food combinations, they are extremely horny, they enjoy Finnish country music, or they are unable to say a complete proverb. Great example of this is the character of Henrik (Zoltán Schmied). As I implied earlier, there are scenes of sex and nudity in this film. But it is definitely not nudity for the sake of nudity. All of the sex scenes include Henrik – he is literally characterised by having sex with every woman he meets – but that is all set up for something simple that makes him suddenly seem like quite a complex character.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the music of this film. It is brilliant, especially Tomy Tani’s songs – “Dance Dance Have A Good Time”, “Doki Doki”, and “Believe To The End” – that were composed by Erik Sumo. They feel like something that a Japanese Elvis-like character might sing, but they are also extremely catchy.
I hope I convinced you that it is worth your time to look this film up and watch it. It is such a great, unique movie. If you like weird films, want to watch something different, or are just interested in fun European films in general, do yourself a favour – give Liza, the Fox-Fairy a chance.
Daniel Fekete is a screenwriting student from Czech Republic studying at the University of Suffolk. He likes movies, comic books, TV shows, and books. If you say his name three times, he will appear and tell you that it is pronounced [‘fεkεtε].