IT started in 1956 with just seven entrants and today is one of the biggest spectacles in the entertainment calendar.
The Eurovision Song Contest, a glorious combination of camp, cheese, and theatrics, is an extravaganza unlike any other. With over 200 million viewers a year, it has a massive body of diehard fans. Over the years we’ve had singing grannies, Finnish rockers dressed like goblins, thousands of gallons of glitter, and our own shameful entrant: Dustin the Turkey.
With such phenomenal love, it is surprising a film hasn’t been made before about it, yet when I heard about Eurovision Song Contest: Fire Saga I thought it was a joke. But no, it is this week’s big release, heading straight for Netflix, and ready for you to cast your votes.
The film is set in Iceland and begins in 1974. A young boy, Lars Erickssong, has been grief-stricken since the death of his mother. His father, Erick (Pierce Brosnan) doesn’t know how to show his love for him. On the night of the Eurovision, ABBA take to the stage and Lars’s life is changed. He watches, amazed by the glory of Waterloo, and decides there and then he will dedicate his life to Eurovision. One day he will win the tournament for Iceland.
Sigrit Ericksdottir also has a revelation that night. She hasn’t spoken since she was born, but seeing Lars dance and watching ABBA perform, Sigrit begins to sing and she has the voice of an angel.
Flash forward to the present day and Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) still dream of representing Iceland at the contest. They have a band, Fire Saga, and practice in his father’s basement.
Lars is a dreamer — he wears dodgy rock glam outfits and still believes they will get their chance upon that glorious stage. Sigrit is a little bit more realistic. She loves to sing with Lars and loves him, but he says they cannot be together — it will ruin their music.
Lars has become the town clown. His father is ashamed of him, everyone laughs at him, but Sigrit’s love remains steadfast. All she wants in life is a dreamer to dream with.
They sing in their local pub, to the same grumpy faces each week. All the crowd wants to hear is a folk song and won’t let them sing any Fire Saga songs. When they announce they are entering a song in the Icelandic league of Eurovision, they get laughed at. Sigrit is a beautiful singer, but everything Lars touches turns to disaster.
By a miracle/mistake, they are selected as one of the ten finalists. They are up against Katiana (Demi Lovato), a dead cert to go to the finals, but luck strikes once again and Fire Saga are set to take on the rest of Europe in the song contest.
Lars and Sigrit are catapulted from their sleepy fishing village to the dizzying heights of Scotland. They are overwhelmed by the size and sights and that’s before they get to the stadium where they will perform.
It’s not long before Sigrit’s beauty draws the attention of Russian pop sensation Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens). An oligarch with enormous wealth and a massive ego, when he hears Sigrit sing, he decides they could have it all — be the greatest pop sensations the world has ever seen.
While Sigrit’s head is being turned by Alexander, Lars has fallen under the sway of Greek contestant Mita Xenakis (Melissanthi Mahut).
As Lars and Sigrit struggle to sort the affairs of their hearts, they have other issues to contend with — their routine is falling apart and Lar’s misfortune is about to strike yet again.
Made with support from the people behind Eurovision, true fans will be delighted to see several former contestants cameo in this, and will also enjoy Graham Norton playing himself as commentator extraordinaire. The songs are absolute Euro-gold. The film nails the pageantry, glitter, and glam.
While it does poke fun at the magnificence of it all, it does it with love and respect. Iceland, too, gets its fair share of digs, but it is also done with fondness.
Ferrell does go too far at times, he needs some reins, but he captures the man-child dreamer and McAdams is a Nordic dream — full of fun and light. Stevens is having a blast, his Russian pop star is divine.
This is a madcap fix of camp glory, outrageously funny, and an absolute blast.